Way back in the dark ages of 2012, Paramount snatched up a little untitled comedy pitch from a guy named Rodney Rothman. A little comedy pitch … with Seth Rogen and Kevin Hart attached to star and Rogen and Evan Goldberg attached to produced. So, more like a really, really huge pitch, I guess. Oh, also Rothman did a bunch of work on Undeclared and executive produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which is probably worth something.
Well, the dark ages are over, and now word has gotten out about this untitled pitch (now a mostly-titled screenplay), from the guy who’s planning on directing it: Nicholas Stoller. Him, you might remember from the time he directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Five-Year Engagement, as well as from when he shared writing duties on the last two Muppets movies. Also, his Neighbors is poised to hit in a big way this summer –so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Now Stoller is taking to the streets (the streets of the Internet, anyway) to pump up this film that he might be directing but hasn’t yet signed on to. First, he went to Slashfilm, where he reaffirmed what the movie was about: the first (fictional) time a black and white cop were partnered up. And he mentioned that this new picture’s got marijuana and hip jazz music and that he really, really wants to direct it. Also, he mentioned that it’s “kind of a Baz Luhrman world mixed with Tarantino shit.” Which is confusing.
Then, Stoller stopped over at Collider to drop some more deets, both newer and juicier than the ones he dropped just hours before. First up, the screenplay has a title: Black and White — but everybody’s just calling it Jazz Cops right now. Stoller elaborated on that Lurhman/Tarantino thing, explaining that the 1940s setting is a little bit jazz and a little bit hip-hop, but also everyone is terrifyingly racist and anti-semitic and exist solely to push boundaries. Apparently one character is a DJ named Whitey McWhite, which should clue you in to what they’re going for.
Collider, to their credit, pressed Stoller a little bit about doing so much press for a movie he’s not technically attached to, and they asked if he’s got anything saved just in case Black and White doesn’t pan out. He doesn’t.
“No, I’m all-in on these guys,” he told the site. “If it’s not them I don’t know what to do (laughs). And I don’t develop stuff. I go all-in on the movie I’m interested in doing. It’s always risky because your movie could fall apart, but I’d rather do it that way.”
So, here’s the thing: all that news you just finished reading needs to be handled with a particularly large grain of salt. Because a) Stoller does not seem to be attached to Black and White in any official capacity, and b) all this news is just him saying, “Hey, this is a thing I wanna do.”
But unlike, say, your local street-corner wino, Stoller has the connections to back some of this up. In addition to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Rothman was an executive producer on every other film Stoller’s directed so far, sans Neighbors. Plus, Stoller and Rogen are probably best buds after collaborating on Neighbors. It’s also worth mentioning that all four key players — Rothman, Stoller, Rogen and Hart — worked on Undeclared for Judd Apatow.
Then there’s the way he refers to the project, with “we” (as in “we’re figuring it out, and Rodney’s been rewriting the script” and “we call it Jazz Cops“), which makes it sound like he’s already one of the gang, and the actual signage of contract is just a formality that comes later.
Conveniently, though, Stoller’s done us all a great big favor. Even if he ends up not directing Black and White, the world now knows a whole bunch more about a comedy that will surely take the world by storm a few years from now. So long as it masters the whole “period comedy” thing, which is a tricky subject unless you’re Mel Brooks or Monty Python. I’m not worried, though. One of the many other films Rothman executive produced was Year One, so he knows absolutely everything there is about how not to make a period piece comedy.