Gunsmoke: One Man’s Justice

Since I’m wallowing in my TV geekness today (see my earlier post on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA),  here’s a heads-up on another TV revival to watch for…

GunsmokedvdsThe  Western Channel is running GUNSMOKE: ONE MAN’S JUSTICE this week… the final GUNSMOKE revival/sequel movie and, to date, James Arness’ final performance.  It’s the only one of the five GUNSMOKE movies that’s unavailable on video or DVD and the only one I haven’t seen. I’m eagerly looking forward to it… with both Tivos primed to record it (in case there are any screw ups). The  previous GUNSMOKE movies are all terrific and the first three are available seperately, or together in a combo pack, on DVD.

(UPDATE 4-8-05: I justed watched ONE MAN’S JUSTICE and it sucked. On the other hand, RETURN TO DODGE, LAST APACHE,  TO THE LAST MAN, and THE LONG RIDE are good stuff. THE LONG RIDE is also unavailable on DVD)  Gunsmoke2_

And speaking of GUNSMOKE, Joseph West’s latest tie-in novel will be available later this month.

Battlestar Galactica

The season finale of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was terrific… hands down the best science fiction show on TV in decades…and easily one of the best dramas of any genre on TV this season. It certainly packs more punch per hour than THE WEST WING or LAW AND ORDER have in years.  Watching the show makes me feel like a kid again…it’s one of the few programs I look forward to with fannish glee. It’s also one of the few shows on TV today that’s pure entertainment.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA may also be the first TV remake, on TV or the big screen, that’s far superior to the series that inspired it.  I wasn’t wowed by the initial miniseries, or the first episode or two, but the series got better and better with each episode, ending in a season finale that was exciting, surprising, funny, dramatic and a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

I can’t wait for the new episodes in July…

(PS – How can anybody be clamoring for a loyal remake of the original series after watching this show??)

The Television Event of the Decade

The time has come…the true story behind the making of  DIFF’RENT STROKES can finally be told.  Variety reports that the stirring drama will unfold as a  TV movie that will air as part of NBC’s acclaimed "Behind the Camera" series, which some have already compared to the legendary PLAYHOUSE 90. 

Stan Brooks, who produced the "Three’s Company" and upcoming "Mork and Mindy"
editions of the "Behind the Camera" franchise, said "Strokes" promises to be the
most dramatic pic of the series "by far." Other pics, he said, deal with careers falling apart. "With this one, what’s
at stake was people’s lives," Brooks said.

"The thesis of this movie is, Where were the parents in all this? The
studios, the networks, the managers — all the people benefiting from the
success of this show never looked at the effect it was having (on the young
cast). They stole their childhood."

This is truly a star-making, tiffany project. I think I can safely say the actor lucky enough to portray Conrad Bain will be on the short-list for an Emmy statuette next year.  This is actually the second attempt to film this epic story. A few years ago, Fox broadcast AFTER DIFF’RENT STROKES: WHEN THE LAUGHTER STOPPED.

Personally, I’m waiting for somebody to film the shocking true story behind HELLO, LARRY

Battlestar Galactica

I thought Friday night’s episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was great fun…the best yet. The show gets better every week and is evolving, after a rocky start, into an entertaining cross between LOST IN SPACE and the original STAR TREK.

Like LOST IN SPACE, the heroes are wandering through the cosmos without a home and no idea where they’re going. Dr. Baltar has become an  insane, less-cartoony, version of Dr. Zachary Smith…injecting some much needed humor (and, in a strange way, humanity) into the show.  The robot from the Jupitor II has been updated into the sexy, imaginary Cylon woman who exists only in Dr. Balter’s head…or is she more than that?

Like the original  STAR TREK,  there’s no preaching, no grand space opera, just action, adventure, fun
and sex. That’s right, sex. This week, we actually saw two characters writhing
around and, get this,  having orgasms (though one of the characters
is a Cylon who’s spine glows when she’s climaxing, but let’s not get into that).  Capt Kirk used to get laid every episode…but in the
recent incarnations
of STAR TREK, the pompous, aren’t-we-so-noble-you-could-vomit crewmembers have either been celibate… or
dealt with sex like uptight teenagers (when the producers weren’t engaged in cringe-worthy leering… like  those  ridiculous spongebath scenes in early seasons of ENTERPRISE..or the skin-tight uniform that hugged Seven of Nine’s enormous Borg Breasts on VOYAGER). After watching STAR TREK for
the last 15 years, I was beginning to think "Abstinance" was the new Prime Directive.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA   is  such a refreshing change from the stilted, self-important, sanitized scifi we’ve been getting over the last few years. Each episode reinforces just how calcified the STAR TREK franchise has become. It’s no coincidence UPN finally mercy-killed ENTERPRISE the same season that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is injecting new life into the genre. It’s as if showrunner Ron Moore, an ST:NG vet, is intentionally rebelling against all the sanitizing, drama-smothering restrictions and formulas he had to endure while writing for TREK. How anybody could endure ENTERPRISE after watching BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is beyond me.

To be far, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA isn’t the first post-STAR TREK show to re-energize the genre.  FARSCAPE managed to muddy space up a bit it’s first season…but then wallowed in melodrama and overly complicated serial storylines, taking all the fun (and almost all of the humor) out of the show, alienating new viewers and some of the old ones, too.

If the writers of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA continue having this much fun with the stories and the characters, the series has the potential to be the next great scifi franchise… and attract more and more new viewers every week.

(This is one time where the revival is infinitely better than the original series that inspired it)

Battlestar Galactica

BattlestargalacticaThe new SciFi Channel revival of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA won rave reviews today from the Los Angeles Times and Brian Lowry at Variety.

Those who don’t frequent Internet chat rooms have missed much of the
off-screen drama surrounding "Galactica’s" voyage, with plenty of overheated
from fans of the original that has gone a long way toward giving sci-fi
nerds a bad name. Fortunately, producers of the new show have mostly tuned out
the static and stuck to their guns, crafting a very adult series whose principle
shortcoming is being almost unrelentingly grim — though not inappropriately so,
given the subject matter.

Lowry says the producers aren’t entirely tuning out the whining from the fans of the original series.

The producers have thrown a bone to die-hard fans by casting Richard Hatch
Apollo in the earlier version, who has spent years lobbying to revive the
franchise — in the third episode. Hatch plays a political prisoner who leads a
rebellion against the fleet, which is doubtless a small inside joke.

I’m sure the producers are expecting calls from Herbert Jefferson, Laurette Spang and all the other Galactica has-beens in the morning.

TV Discovers New Way to Cannibalize Itself

Nowadays it isnt enough to resurrect old TV shows for revivals (new movies continuing the stories of the characters from the show), reunion specials (actors reminiscing over clips from the old show) and feature film remakes (like STARSKY AND HUTCH, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, CHARLIE’S ANGELS, etc.). Clever network executives have figured out a new way to exploit old hits… 

Now they are making TV movies about the making of  old TV shows.

There have been TV movies about the making of  BATMAN,  THE BRADY BUNCH,  CHARLIE’S ANGELS,  THREE’S COMPANY and now ABC is about to air DYNASTY: BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF A GUILTY PLEASURE. 

The movies-about-TV shows try to make the routine  power plays, artistic differences, and personality clashes play out like high drama (or low comedy, depending on your POV)  instead of what it really is — insanely stupid squabbling over nothing. What’s even more amazing is that people actually tune in to watch the stuff.

If this swill keeps scoring in the ratings, can TV movies about the making of MASH, ALL IN THE FAMILY, STAR TREK, and KNIGHTRIDER be far behind?

To me,  movies about the production of classic TV shows is a new low point for television, though not quite as offensive and jaw-droppingly low brow as reality shows like  TEMPTATION ISLAND, WIFE SWAP, FEAR FACTOR, and EXTREME MAKE-OVER.   But I suppose the  television industry’s endless fascination with itself shouldn’t be a surprise…  Showtime just announced it was making a movie out of  the battle between Michael Eisner and Mike Ovitz at Disney.

Warner Brothers Cries UNCLE

Variety Reports that Warner Brothers is exhuming yet another classic TV series for the big screen… they are mounting a feature film version of THE MAN FROM UNCLE.Manfromuncle

The interesting twist here is that the movie is going to be directed by Matthew Vaughn who, for most of his life, believed he was the biol0gical son of UNCLE star Robert Vaughn.  It turns out that he wasn’t (but is actually the biological son of some minor British aristocrat).

Matthew Vaughn is the long-time producing partner of Guy Ritchie and made his directorial debut with LAYER CAKE, a crime thriller that will be released this spring.

At one time, Quentin Tarantino was rumored to be interested in an UNCLE feature…

Back to the Beach

Baywatchtitlecardop The studios must each have an exec who does nothing but troll through old TV guides, looking for series to resurrect. Variety Reports that Dreamworks — that’s Steven Spielberg and company — are fast-tracking a feature film version of BAYWATCH, a show I worked on (though I don’t usually admit it publicly).

The rights package was brought to the marketplace by CAA late last week, and before other studios could get a toe in the water, DreamWorks took the plunge with a guarantee of $1.25 million that had the lawyers finalizing a deal over the weekend.

DreamWorks’ John Fox and production president Adam Goodman spearheaded the bid; Fox will supervise the pic.

It is unclear whether any of the series regulars will be involved. The stars included Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and Yasmine Bleeth. Bolstering them was a batch of buff hunks led by David Hasselhoff, who starred in the series from 1989-2000 and became exec producer after the series became a global sensation. He is not at this point part of the film package.

The deal calls for "Baywatch" creators Michael Berk, Doug Schwartz and Greg Bonann to produce the pic, while Michelle Berk will be exec producer and Eli Roth will co-produce.

Can THREE’S COMPANY: THE MOVIE be far behind?

Yet Another TV Show Goes Big Screen

While movie stars are flocking to primetime…

…primetime shows are flooding the theatres. Variety Reports that the 70s sitcom GOOD TIMES is heading to a multiplex near you.

Management-production company Creative Production Group has secured featurefeature rights to "Good Times," the 1970s Norman Lear sitcom that captured the life of an African-American family living in a Chicago housing project. The rights were secured by CPG’s Rodney Omanoff and Graham Kaye, both of whom will produce.

With the film "Speedway Junky""Speedway Junky" atop its resume, CPG didn’t have a track record comparable to those of the other suitors who tried to win the rights over the past decade, from Wesley Snipes to Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the Wayans clan.

But Omanoff did have one advantage: He ran a collection agency, which enabled him to track down series co-creator Mike Evans. Best remembered for playing Lionel on "The Jeffersons," Evans long ago retired to live in the California desert. While series co-creator Eric Monte put together several possible deals, Evans objected to being an afterthought and declined to sign off on them. Omanoff was the first suitor to visit him, and Evans was persuaded to make the deal.


Gee, I can remember when it used to be the other way around… and they tried to make TV shows based on movies. I must be getting old.

Still More TV Revivals

Not only are HAWAII 5-0, MIAMI VICE, KOLCHAK movies on the way, but now Variety reports that DALLAS is going to the big-screen, too.

Regency Enterprises has struck a deal with "Legally Blonde" helmer Robert Luketic to helm an update of the wildly popular Eye web skein "Dallas," which aired from 1978-91. Set in a post-Enron world, with the conniving J.R. Ewing now the head of the most powerful energy company in the world, the film will feature the plottings and backstabbings of many of the original "Dallas" characters. Script is from Robert Harling ("The First Wives Club," "Steel Magnolias"); series creator David Jacobs is producing the film with former Sony Pictures exec VP of production-turned-producer Michael Costigan.

Speaking of TV shows-turned-to-movies, Variety Reports that Burt Reynolds has just signed to be Boss Hogg in the movie version of DUKES OF HAZARD. Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxvilel play Bo and Luke Duke, Jessica Simpson is Daisy Duke.

Adaptation will be set in the present day but the General Lee, the duo’s 1969 Dodge Charger, is expected to be the same iconic orange car seen in the series. Pic is being directed by Jay ChandrasekharJay Chandrasekhar of the Broken Lizards comedy troupe, who co-wrote the script