Ben Stiller is set to co-write, produce and direct a feature adaptation of Rachel Maddow‘s hit podcast Bag Man for Focus Features, Collider has learned.
The Bag Man podcast chronicles the true story of one of the most brazen political bribery scandals in American history, which played out before the country while nobody was paying attention. The podcast asked if it was really possible for an American Vice President to carry out a criminal enterprise inside the White House and have nobody remember?
The MSNBC host’s Peabody Award-nominated podcast went back 45 years to dig into a story that got overshadowed in its day, one that features intrigue, corruption and envelopes of cash delivered to the White House. It’s a story that’s not well known, but it probably should be — especially today.
Stiller co-wrote the screenplay with Adam Perlman and Mike Yarvitz, the latter of whom executive produced the podcast and co-wrote the subsequent book with Maddow. Stiller and Yarvitz will also produce the film with Lorne Michaels and Josh McLaughlin, while Maddow will executive produce alongside Nicky Weinstock, Michael Price, Erin David and Andrew Singer.
The Zoolander director actually professed his love for the Bag Man podcast back in November 2018, when he tweeted “I am loving @Maddow’s #BagMan podcast. Such great storytelling and so crazily current. It’s so well done!” He also referenced the book in December 2020, which makes sense, since sources say this project has been in development at Focus for several months.
Stiller is always juggling several projects in various stages of development, and Collider previously reported that he was meeting with actors to potential star in his crime movie The Seven Five, which is in the works at MGM. That film is based on a 2014 documentary from director Tiller Russell that centered around a group of corrupt New York cops in the ’80s, and last I heard, Stiller was working on a new draft of the script with The Favourite scribe Tony McNamara.
Stiller has kept busy since winning a DGA Award for his work on Showtime‘s limited series Escape at Dannemora. Not only did he appear alongside Anne Hathaway in Doug Liman‘s pandemic-themed heist comedy Locked Down, but he also recently executive produced the illegal coupon comedy Queenpins starring Kristen Bell and Vince Vaughn, as well as an upcoming documentary about famed writer Budd Schulberg.
Additionally, Stiller is preparing to direct the Apple TV+ series Severance starring Patricia Arquette, Adam Scott, John Turturro and Christopher Walken., and he’s set to re-team with Arquette again on another Apple series titled High Desert. The duo co-starred in David O. Russell‘s 1996 comedy Flirting with Disaster before working together on Escape at Dannemora. Stiller is represented by WME and 3 Arts Entertainment.