As production is getting underway on the Jack Black comedy The Polka King, Jenny Slate, Vanessa Bayer and J B Smoove are joining the cast. They are joining the already announced Jason Schwartzman and Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver in the real-life story of a popular polka band leader Jan Lewan who bilked fans out of millions with a ponzi scheme.
As with the rest of the casting announcements, there has been no word as to what role any of these actors will be playing. Since the film will need someone to play Lewan’s wife – an attempt to fix the Mrs. Pennsylvania pageant in which Lewan’s spouse is a contestant is a major plot point in the Lewan story – I would say that either Slate or Bayer will be filling those shoes. If I were a betting man, I would go with Slate as playing Lewan’s wife given her strong performance in 2014’s critical favorite Obvious Child. While I like Bayer’s work a lot on Saturday Night Live, I think she may be a bit too quirky for the role.
Lewan’s story was originally told in the 2009 documentary The Man Who Would Be Polka King from directors Joshua Brown and John Mikulak. Lewan, a Polish immigrant, found fame as a polka band leader in northeastern Pennsylvania in the 1980s. As his fame grew, he began organizing tours to his home country, still under Communist control at the time. In time, he turned to selling “shares” in his his business to keep it afloat, knowing that he would never be able to pay off the suspiciously high rate of return that he guaranteed on them. His business soon began to collapse after an accusation of vote tampering at the Mrs. Pennsylvania pageant his wife was competing in.
The new film is being co-written and directed by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. No release date has been announced.