Jack Black considers Linklater bowling film, will cut jazz record

NEW YORK -- Yes, really.

Black, who recently reunited with “School of Rock” director Richard Linklater for the rural Texas black comedy “Bernie,” said he’s attached to a third collaboration with the Austin auteur. The subject? Spares and strikes.

“It’s about a guy who gives up everything to be a professional bowler,” Black told The Times at an award-season event here for “Bernie.”

Even more juicily, the new project could center on a well-known colorful ball-thrower — the polarizing PBA champion Pete Weber.


Black acknowledged the film was inspired by a real-life bowler, but wouldn’t specify who. There are several indications, though, that it’s Weber, a bowler who indeed sacrificed a lot on his way to ten-pin glory, enduring several marriages and a bout with alcoholism. Black also implied the character was about 50 years old (Weber turned 50 this summer).

At the mention of Weber’s name, Black playfully looked over his shoulder and then up and down, as if to say “I’m not saying nuthin’.”

Whatever the fate of the bowling movie, Linklater and Black are proving a potent combination.

The pair helped turbocharge each other’s careers with the huge fan favorite “Rock” back in 2003. And after several disappointing studio comedies, Black’s reunion with Linklater has been a shot in the arm.

“Bernie” has expanded how audiences view Black, who turns in a bravura performance as Bernie Tiede, a real-life gay mortician who killed a rich widow (Shirley MacLaine) with whom he was locked in a co-dependent relationship. (If you haven’t seen it, do check it out; Black’s performance is sly and layered, and also merits a closer look from awards voters.)

The actor said he’d like to do more indies along those lines because they’re “a lot more rewarding” than studio movies, where “you’re just sitting in your trailer so much of the time.”

“There’s not much trailer time on a movie like ‘Bernie,’” he said. “We were shooting three pages a day.”

In the meantime, Black is mixing things up in other ways.

The actor-musician has been in the midst of a globetrotting tour with Tenacious D, the comedic rock band he formed two decades ago with Kyle Gass. Turns out they’ve been hitting the studio recently too -- and getting their Coltrane on.

Black told The Times that a new album he labeled “Tenacious D Jazz” had been recorded and would come out at the end of November. The record will contain lyrics, but still channel Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and other instrument-based jazz influences (though how a band known for rock shredding will take on dissonant horns remains to be seen. The band has been sprinkling in some jazz numbers in recent shows; here’s one example of Black getting woodwind-y.)

Asked if there was any way he was joking, Black said no. He added that the album will be a limited-edition, vinyl-only release.

”We’re purists that way,” he said.


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