Variety first reported about The $40,000 Man back in June, I was cautiously optimistic. The idea of a Steve Austin-esque astronaut being injured in a car accident and rebuilt on a tight budget sounded promising enough, even though the writing team of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (you know the former as Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks) were unproven.

But now that Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes have taken the reins, I’m totally on board. While we’re all in agreement that Art School Confidential was the most heartbreaking disappointment of 2006, it’s hard to imagine the team behind Ghost World missing the mark that badly again. The only cause for trepidation is the for-hire aspect of this gig; the last time Zwigoff tried to make a studio comedy (with Bad Santa), he got raped by the Weinsteins. I saw an early version of Bad Santa in January 2003 of that film, and even the Zwigoff-approved Director’s Cut DVD released in 2006 is missing the caustic majesty of that version. I’ve been chasing that cut ever since to no avail. Thanks, Weinsteins!

There’s little doubt that Zwigoff and Clowes took a pre-strike assignment here, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have fun with the premise. All they have to do now is land a reasonably talented lead. Since I know New Line loves to cast from their recent successes, might I recommend Hairspray‘s James Marsden? I know he’s not a draw, but, damn it, he’s earned it.

Benderspink, the good folks trying to bring you an A-list Preacher, are producing.