Are the Farrelly brothers about to escape development hell? Maybe. Twentieth Century Fox is taking over the brothers’ long-awaited modern day The Three Stooges adaptation, pulling the project from the clammy grip of the now-officially-bankrupt MGM.

The change in studio oversight is accompanied by a tentative start date for the comedy: Twentieth Century wants to begin shooting on March 14, 2011. An ambitious milestone, but whether it’ll actually happen hinges on how soon Bobby and Peter Farrelly can secure a cast. So far, things are looking shaky. At one point, Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, and Benicio Del Toro were on board to play the trio of lovable idiots. That lineup was all but lost, however, when Penn and Carrey both dropped out, leaving questions about whether Del Toro would stay on. At the moment, there are no official cast confirmations, but the Farrellys remain optimistic.

“The script is ready to go, and we are opening up these roles to the world right now,” Peter Farrelly said. “We'll make it with the best possible people. Our feeling is that no star is too big to audition and no matter who it is, we're going to have to see him in the role. This is not ‘The Flintstones.’ You've got to be Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Curly Howard, and that could be a major movie star or at unknown.”

The script, which was written by the Farrellys and actor Mike Cerrone, will place the Stooges in the present day, starting from their shared childhood at an orphanage and following them through adulthood. I'm already doubting the realism of this film considering that these days any child who displays the sort of erratic behavior that characterizes the Stooges is immediately prescribed massive amounts of Ritalin and/or enrolled in special ed. Looks like I just gave you your hook, boys. Sean Penn might return to the project if he can play a retard. (Deadline)