Will Ferrell as Russ Meyer

In 1970, soft-core exploitation maestro Russ Meyer and film critic Roger Ebert collaborated on a film that Ebert later characterized as one “that got made by accident when the lunatics took over the asylum.” Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was originally intended to be a sequel to the melodrama Valley of the Dolls, but in the hands of Meyer and Ebert it became something else. Ebert calls it “a satire of Hollywood conventions, genres, situations, dialogue, characters and success formulas.” It’s a bizarre curio of a very different Hollywood.

Naturally, the story of its creation is going to be a movie, called Russ & Roger Go Beyond. Will Ferrell is looking like the actor who will play Russ Meyer in a project that doesn’t yet have any other creative talent attached.

Deadline reports on the film. It’s actually an indie, rather than a studio production. There’s no director (Deadline mentions interest from Edgar Wright) and no one chosen to play Ebert. Ferrell hasn’t signed yet, but if he does it will push the movie forward pretty fast, and other names will probably be attached in short order. That alone likely rules out Wright as director.

Producers are Mark Amin’s Sobini Films and David Permut and Richard Waltzer; the script is by Christopher Cluess (SNLThe Simpsons).

The report says the film begins in the late ’60s just as the New Hollywood movement was really kicking off, and Fox was struggling in the wake of a series of flops. Richard Zanuck gave Meyer the BVD directing gig in the hopes that Meyer’s drive in success and cheap working methods could create a film that would make money for Fox. Meyer hired Ebert, and the two got on surprisingly well.

That pegs the film as a potentially fun romp through the heady days of “anything goes” Hollywood as new voices briefly triumphed over old establishment types. And of course there’s the easy attention-getting ploy of casting women to play the various large-busted actresses with whom Meyer always associated, even if BVD featured a less superheroically-proportioned cast.

For much more on the original film, read Roger Ebert’s look back at the movie for its ten-year anniversary. This piece is also the source of the Ebert quotes above.

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