While Ted Melfi waits for his Woody Harrelson movie Fruit Loops to find a new home, the filmmaker is getting his St. Vincent gang back together, as Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd are in talks to star in the comedy The Starling, which Melfi will direct from a 2005 Black List script by Matt Harris.
McCarthy and O’Dowd will play a married couple who suffer a tragedy that puts a strain on their relationship. O’Dowd heads off to deal with grief in recovery, while McCarthy stays home in her backyard, seeking solace in a beautiful garden. Unfortunately for her, a large black starling has built a nest and taken up residence there as well, which prompts her to track down a veterinarian to humanely deal with the situation. According to Deadline, the emotional story is reportedly “an allegorical tale of how love can carry one through grief,” and it’s said to be comparable to St. Vincent in terms of its tone.
Keanu Reeves and Isla Fisher were reportedly circling the script at the same time that Dome Karukoski (Tolkien) was poised to direct, but that incarnation of the project never took flight. Originally, the spouse squaring off against the starling was the husband, but now, obviously, the roles have been reversed. It’s a wise move, especially given McCarthy’s track record in comedies.
Limelight will fully finance The Starling, which is being produced by Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker, as well as Melfi and his wife, actress Kimberly Quinn. Alex Dong will serve as an executive producer on the project, which could go before cameras as soon as this summer. He found himself with an open slot when Disney-Fox declined to move forward with Fruit Loops, which is now being shopped to other studios, with Paramount reportedly expressing interest.
It’s good timing for Melfi, as his likely leading lady McCarthy is coming off an Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me? and has the DC-branded crime drama The Kitchen coming later this summer. She and O’Dowd previously co-starred in Bridesmaids together. McCarthy is represented by CAA and MGMT Entertainment, while O’Dowd is repped by WME and 3 Arts. Hidden Figures director Melfi is repped by UTA.