New Line Front-Runner To Land Chris Farley Biopic Package Starring Paul Walter Hauser With Josh Gad Directing: The Dish

EXCLUSIVE: No decision has been made official, but sources tell Deadline that New Line is the favorite to land the package that is based on the biography The Chris Farley Show with Paul Walter Hauser attached to play the legendary comedian. The pitch is based on the book by Farley’s brother Tom Farley Jr. and Tanner Colby and will be adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber with Josh Gad directing. Lorne Michaels, who found and cast Farley in Saturday Night Live in the ’90s, is producing through his Broadway Video.

Insiders say the family has given their blessing to the project. The studio had no comment.

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The film would tell the story of one of the great comic actors of his generation. Getting his start in the second heyday of Saturday Night Live, where Farley would join an ensemble of all-time SNL greats including Adam Sandler, David Spade, Phil Hartman and Rob Schneider. From the start, Farley stood out with his great amazing physical comedy, delivering iconic sketches like his “Van Down by the River” performances as motivational speaker Matt Foley or trying out as a Chippendales dancer with Patrick Swayze that live in SNL lore.

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His success on the show would translate over to the big screen, where Farley soon would join the A-list of ’90s comedians with such hit films as Tommy Boy, Black Sheep and Beverly Hills Ninja. After being sober for three years, he would relapse and fall back in to drugs and alcohol, dying from an overdose in 1997. His death at 33 shook not just the industry but all lovers of film and comedy and immediately drew comparisons to fellow SNL alum John Belushi, who died at the same age in 1982.

For Hauser, this is the type of role he has been driving toward as his career has risen rapidly following his scene-stealing role as Tonya Harding’s bodyguard in I, Tonya. He has followed that up with leading roles in Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell and most recently his star-making turn in Black Bird, which earned him an Emmy.

As for Gad, this would mark a big move for him as the actor takes his first step in the directing realm, taking on the story of a person who surely inspired his own comedic aspirations over the years.

Neustadter and Weber’s long list of credits include The Disaster Artist, The Fault in Our Stars and (500) Days of Summer.

Hauser is repped by CAA, Artists First and Schreck Rose Dapello; Gad is represented by CAA, Sugar 23, ImPRint and Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole; Farley and Colby are represented by Verve; Broadway Video is represented by CAA; and Neustadter and Weber are represented by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone.

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