Host Billy Crystal in upcoming movie by writer Chris Millis

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An upcoming independent film written by Chris Millis of Saratoga Springs is getting a big, unanticipated boost: Playing a supporting role is Billy Crystal, who will be hosting the Oscars — just two weeks before the movie’s debut.

And Millis was also name-dropped in the New York Times.

“If you’ve been waiting to see Billy Crystal, last a movie lead nine years ago in ‘Analyze That,’ back on the big screen, wait no more,” wrote Michael Cieply in an item in Friday’s New York Times. “Directed by Jonas Akerlund, ‘Small Apartments’ is a comedy, based on a script and novel by Chris Millis, about a deadbeat who kills his landlord.”

“It’s awesome,” Millis said Saturday from Los Angeles about making the movie.

“I was on the set every day and worked very closely with Akerlund. He’s kind of a rocker dude. I love him,” he said.

Millis, a 1990 Saratoga Springs High School graduate, lives in Saratoga Springs with his wife, Lisa, and their twin boys, who will turn 5 this month.

During frequent trips to L.A., he stays with fellow Class of 1990 grad Scott Sheldon, who Millis said plays a police officer in “Small Apartments” and will also be a police officer this Thursday in the TV show “Private Practice” at 10 p.m. Thursday on ABC.

The novel “Small Apartments” was originally published in 2001 by Anvil Press. His first novel, it won the 23rd Annual International Three-Day Novel Contest.

Millis is now putting the finishing touches on the ebook, among other things.

“I have a bunch of open projects right now,” he said. “I am doing a film with Mark Piznarski, the director of the CW TV show ‘Gossip Girl.’ ”

“Small Apartments” will screen for the first time in mid-March at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, just two or three weeks after the Feb. 26 Oscars.

Millis adapted the screenplay and is executive producer.

In the movie, in addition to Crystal, are Matt Lucas, Johnny Knoxville, James Caan, Dolph Lundgren, Juno Temple, Peter Stormare, James Marsden, Amanda Plummer, Saffron Burrows, David Koechner, David Warshofsky, Rebel Wilson and Rosie Perez, according to Millis’ blog.

How the movie will be distributed after the festival has yet to be determined.

“I’d really love to do something big in Saratoga,” Millis said.