the one and only ivan writer interview

Mike White has made his name as a renaissance man of modern entertainment. He’s written beloved family movies (School of Rock), blockbuster sequels (Pitch Perfect 3), and critically acclaimed dramas (The Good Girl). He wrote for a television show that ranks among the finest one season wonders of all time (Freaks and Geeks) and created a beloved HBO shows that felt a few years ahead of its time (Enlightened). He’s directed personal indie films (Brad’s Status, Year of the Dog). And he’s been a contestant on more than one reality show (Survivor, The Amazing Race).

Now, White can cross “write a Disney movie” off his list with The One and Only Ivan. Based on the book by Katherine Applegate, the film is a charming, cute, and sometimes melancholy tale about a gorilla who learns to dream beyond the mall enclosure he calls home. I spoke with White over Zoom ahead of the film’s release on Disney+ to talk about what it’s like to write for animal characters and why people like me keep asking him about School of Rock nearly 20 years later.

Read More »

Green Band Trailer

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we witness the power of sheer will to get a movie made, visit with a Disney tween heartthrob who would become a serial killer, get our kid out of the house and into college, find love on the farm, and try not to get shot to death by the police. Read More »

Ben Stiller Mike White Brad Status

It’s been almost a decade since we’ve seen Mike White direct a feature film. Of course, the screenwriter behind The Good Girl and School of Rock has been busy since Year of the Dog. Most notably, he created and wrote HBO’s Enlightened, a beautiful, often heartbreaking show that didn’t last long enough. He directed six episodes of the series, but now he has another feature in the works. Ben Stiller is in final negotiations to star in White’s Brad Status as a man confronting his failures.

Below, learn more about the Mike White project.

Read More »


After spending most of the past decade putting out one fantastical big-scale spectacle after another, Sam Raimi is going for something a little more grounded with his next project. He’s now in talks to direct Love May Fail, an adaptation of a novel by Silver Linings Playbook author Matthew Quick. Hit the jump for more on the Sam Raimi Love May Fail movie.

Read More »

Mike White Jack Black James Marsden

A decade after they played misfit buddies in School of Rock, Jack Black and Mike White are preparing to play longtime pals again in The D-Train. Instead of guiding cute kids to promising futures, however, they’ll be trying to track down a washed-up actor played by James Marsden. Hit the jump for more details on the new project.

Read More »

Briefly: Seemed like a weird move when Mike White was hired to direct the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Well, the film is going back to square one after Mr. White, aka the second director on the project, has dropped out. He tells Deadline that scheduling was to blame, “I loved the project and looked forward to working with Lionsgate. Unfortunately, the timing could not be worked out. I wish them the best with the movie.”

Make of that what you will, but the situation is back to basics — a director is needed. Reportedly the film remains a big priority for LionsGate, which is going out to new talent now. I expect we’ll be able to report a new hire within weeks. Until this point the film was going to be based on the script written by David O. Russell, despite the fact that he left as director. We assume that will continue to be the case, but will clarify as new info comes in.

The man behind Chuck and Buck is set to dress well and suck…brains, that it is. Mike White, the writer of School of Rock, Nacho Libre and the aforementioned Chuck and Buck is now officially set to direct his sophomore feature film – an adaptation of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith, which tells the classic Austin love story but fills in gaps with zombie comedy and horror. Think white ruffles and hair bonnets covered with blood and guts.

White, whose only feature film directorial experience before this was the Molly Shannon comedy Year of the Dog, was first on a short list to direct the film and then highlighted as a front runner because of his unique ability to fuse tones and genres. He’s currently working on the HBO show Enlightened with Laura Dern. David O. Russell was long set to direct the film before leaving the project. In his time, he brought Natalie Portman on as a star, who then left but stayed on as a producer. Read more after the jump. Read More »

I evidently need to read the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies script (anyone got it?) because while the idea of inserting zombies in Jane Austen‘s classic story sounds amusing enough to power a bit of sketch comedy, I’m having difficulty coming to terms with it as something that people are jockeying to direct.

The latest contender for the director’s chair, recently abdicated David O. Russell, is School of Rock writer Mike White. Read More »

Yesterday it was reported that Neil Marshall, Mike Newell and David Slade are on the short list of filmmakers being considered to direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper circling the lead roles. The Wrap now adds a couple more interesting names to the list:

Jonathan Demme has read the script and wants to direct the movie, but he’s not the only one interested in the job, as TheWrap has learned that Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”), Mike White (“Year of the Dog”) and the “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller are also in the mix.

I can understand Demme’s interest, but Matt Reeves seems like a more natural fit coming off of Let Me In. Mike White’s humor seems like an odd match for this property, and his directorial debut Year of the Dog left me thinking he should stick to screenwriting. I have yet to see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, despite constant encouragement to do so from friends. I’ve heard it’s hilarious. I really liked Lord/Miller’s animated television series Clone High U.S.A., but does their cartoon-like sensibility fit this period zombie film (even if it is a ridiculous comic take?).

Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Ruben Fleischer

Ruben Fleischer got his start in commercials and music videos, but his feature film debut Zombieland made Hollywood pay attention to the filmmaker. Columbia Pictures is trying to keep him in the fold, announcing today that Fleischer will develop and direct Babe in the Woods, a screenplay written by Mike White. The story is described as an “action comedy” about an innocent young college freshman from the Midwest who arrives at Yale and becomes a target of the New Jersey mafia.

Read More »