Billy Eichner has teamed up with producer Tom McNulty for Man in the Box, a biopic based on the life of groundbreaking comedian Paul Lynde.
The Emmy-nominated star will portray Lynde, who was best known for roles as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched, Harry MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie and as a regular “center square” panelist on the game show The Hollywood Squares from 1968 to 1981.
Lynde – who was one of the most popular TV stars of his era – was infamous for his campy and snarky persona, and has been credited as an inspiration from countless gay comedians in the past four decades. (Fun fact: The voice of Roger Smith on American Dad was modelled after Lynde.)
In an interview with Deadline, Eichner said he’s the perfect actor to embody Lynde because of the similarities in their career trajectories, in which they present a “rather larger-than-life, flamboyant, gay persona on screen.”
“If you look at those jokes on Hollywood Squares, he comes as close to admitting he’s gay as you possibly can,” explained Eichner. “He’s making thinly veiled, at best, references to gay sex, to finding men attractive, to swinging both ways. It’s not even subtle, and rather bold for the time.
“That wasn’t some underground, indie film being shot in New York; it was as mainstream as you can get. Hollywood Squares was a huge hit, always in the top 10 or 20 shows, for over a decade. It made him a very famous, wealthy person.”
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