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SPOTLIGHT: Sweeping Culture Daily

“Little Miss Sunshine” Duo Take On Hollywood and the Black Panthers in “The Big Cigar”

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By Craig Hubert | Fake movie movies are all the rage these days. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, the husband-and-wife team behind “Little Miss Sunshine,” are set to direct “The Big Cigar,” an “Argo”-like Hollywood drama set in the 1970’s, reports Deadline. Based on a true story, “Cigar” centers on Bert Schneider, the producer behind “The Last Picture Show” and “Five Easy Pieces,” and his plot to help smuggle Huey Newton, the founder of the Black Panthers, into Cuba. Schneider, who made his name with the creation of “The Monkees,” was one-third of BBS (along with Bob Rafelson and Stephen Blauner), the production company powerhouse that helped put in motion some of the most distinctive and adventurous films of the New Hollywood, collaborating with Dennis Hopper, Peter Bogdanovich, and Jack Nicholson, among others. During this time, Schneider was also politically active and donated frequently to progressive causes while quietly funding figures like Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman while they went underground. His plot to help Newton involved a fake movie called “The Big Cigar,” and was successful in getting the radical leader to Cuba, where he stayed for three years before coming back to the United States. Joshua Bearman, who wrote the original article that provided the source material for “Argo,” wrote about the story in latest issue of Playboy and will pen the script with Jim Hecht. Dayton and Faris last made “Ruby Sparks,” which came out last year.

Image: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris/Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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