James L. Brooks’ First Film in 13 Years Lands at 20th Century With Emma Mackey and Albert Brooks in Talks to Star

Jamie Lee Curtis and Woody Harrelson are also in negotiations to appear in the original dramedy

James L. Brooks
James L. Brooks (Credit: Getty Images)

James L. Brooks’ first movie in 13 years now has a title, a studio and quite possibly a stacked all-star cast, TheWrap has learned.

“Ella McCay,” the comedy filmmaker’s first theatrical feature since the Reese Witherspoon/Paul Rudd/Owen Wilson rom-com “How Do You Know” in late 2010, will be distributed by 20th Century Studios. Emma Mackey and Albert Brooks are among those in negotiations to star alongside the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Woody Harrelson, Ayo Edebiri, Kumail Nanjiani and Spike Fearn.

“As one of the most empathetic dramatists of our time, James Brooks has set the bar across film and television for decades,” 20th Century Studios president Steve Asbell said in a statement. “From ‘Broadcast News’ to ‘The Simpsons,’ Jim is also a foundational element in the bedrock of 20th and we couldn’t be more proud to support him in his long awaited return to the director’s chair.”

The original dramedy will concern a young politician who struggles with a work/life balance while preparing to take over the job of her mentor, her state’s incumbent governor.

Brooks will also produce along with his partners Julie Ansel and Richard Sakai, who will produce the film through their Gracie Films banner. Seth Meier will executive produce. Overseeing for 20th Century Studios will be executive vice president Scott Aversano.

“How Do You Know” was an infamous commercial flop in its day and also marked the thus-far final onscreen performance from screen legend Jack Nicholson. The three-time Oscar-winning actor has spent the last 13 years in unofficial retirement, so of course any chatter about a new James L. Brooks movie will in-turn feature discourse about whether Nicholson will jump back into the ring one last time.


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