EXCLUSIVE: Deadline hears that Warner Bros. Television is developing a limited series about Buster Keaton in which Oscar and Emmy winner Rami Malek plays the vaudeville-turned-comedy movie star.
Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho Productions, Malek and David Weddle produce, and we understand that The batter director is put in charge. Three-time Emmy winner Ted Cohen (Friends, Succession, Veep) is in negotiations to write and serve as an executive producer on the project. James Curtis’ Buster Keaton: The Life of a Filmmaker is seen as the source material for the series, while the studio negotiates to secure the book.
Daniel Pipski and Rafi Crohn of 6th & Idaho are also EPs.
The project is being prepared to be shopped to streamers and networks; 6th & Idaho have an overall deal at Warner Bros, as Deadline first told you. Reeves is also working on his Batman HBO Max spinoff series at Warners, the penguin, with Colin Farrell reprising his web-handed villain from the movie.
Known for his deadpan expression, actor-director Keaton starred in such films as The Playhouse, Cops, The Electric House, Sherlock Jr and The general among several others; the latter considered his masterpiece.
In The general, an engineer, after being turned down by the Confederate army, not realizing it was due to his crucial civilian role, must single-handedly recapture his beloved locomotive after it is seized by Union spies and takes him through enemy lines return. Steamboat Bill Jr. is known as a pulse-pounding action thriller with a brutal ending where Keaton is pulled through a storm, one random catastrophe after another.
Born into a vaudeville family, Keaton’s career waned after his inking with MGM and he lost his artistic independence. His wife divorced him and he became an alcoholic. His career recovered in the 1940s; he remarried and earned an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.
Filmmakers such as Mel Brooks, Martin Scorsese and Orson Welles were inspired by Keaton and saw him as an artist ahead of his time. Curtis is a renowned biographer of Preston Sturges and WC Fields.
Reeves’ The batter sparked Warner Bros.’s return to theaters last year and grossed nearly $771 million worldwide. It was also one of the most watched movies on HBO Max. Malek won the Oscars for Best Actor for his turn as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury bohemian rhapsody, and lead actor in a drama series at the Emmys for his turn in the US Mr Robot. He played the main villain in Daniel Craig’s 007 swan song, No time to die which grossed more than $774 million worldwide
Malek is represented by WME, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern. Cohen is represented by Literate Management, Rohner Walerstein and UTA. Reeves is represented by CAA, 3 Arts and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein.
Warner Bros. Television did not comment when it was reached.