Richard Linklater Has Jack Black And Shirley MacLaine For His Fargo-Like Film 'Bernie'

It's been a tough year for Richard Linklater. He came into the year with his film Me and Orson Welles finally open in US theaters, but then he had two films fail to get off the ground. That's What I'm Talking About, the 'spiritual sequel' to Dazed & Confused, and the road-trip movie Liars A-E both fell apart.

Now he's got another film written and ready to shoot. Bernie is based on an East Texas crime story and has roots in something the director wrote a decade ago. And now he's got the unlikely duo of Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine set to appear in the film when it shoots in Texas this fall.

Last month, Linklater said the film would be like "my 'Fargo' in East Texas, where I grew up, so it's crazy local with fifty characters. It's about a funeral home assistant who befriends this old lady."

So Jack Black will work again with Linklater to play the assistant, and we've got to expect that MacLaine is playing the lady he befriends. (Sure it could be the other way around, but I doubt it.)

Bleeding Cool dug up info about the film's current state, including a casting note from Linklater that really does make it sound as if he's taking cues from the Coens. (Though in his early films he was always good about casting for authenticity.)

I'm trying to make as authentic a portrayal of small town East Texas life as possible, so I'm looking for the real deal – funny and interesting folks. There are a lot of small parts in the movie, mostly for people over 40.

Lest you think the story is just an odd tale of friendship (have you already forgotten the 'Fargo-like' part?) there are details about the real story that inspired the case, which come by way of Texas Monthly. If you don't want to know too much then skip this part, but it's a pretty crazy tale...and what I'm taking away from this is that it could be a rare chance for Black to break out of the mugging shtick in which he's been locked for so long.

This past August, however, Carthage captured the attention of the entire country when the news broke that the town's richest and snootiest widow, 81-year-old Mrs. Marjorie Nugent, had been found in the bottom of a large freezer in her home. What made the story peculiar was that Mrs. Nugent had been dead for almost nine months before people began searching for her. What made the story truly bizarre was the way many of the townspeople rallied around the 39-year-old man who had admitted to killing her and stealing her money — the soft-spoken, chubby-cheeked Bernie Tiede, the former assistant funeral director at Hawthorn Funeral Home who had gotten close to Mrs. Nugent when he supervised her husband's funeral.