Bryce Zabel gives readers an inside look at the development and production of M.A.N.T.I.S., the first TV series about a black superhero.
Anyway, the deal was, "M.A.N.T.I.S."
had started as a two-hour pilot, written by Sam Hamm (“Batman”) and
directed by Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”). The two Sams had a disagreement
with Fox about how the series should go, and walked away from their own
project. Fox still wanted to do the series, but somebody needed to make
the changes and run the show. Both Hamm and Raimi were extremely
gracious and understanding in the transition, nothing was made
personal, and the series lived.
For me, that’s a pure TV moment. Bryce mentions it casually…but it’s outrageous and insane. And yet, this kind of thing happens so often in TV, we take it as normal. But think about it: Two guys create, produce and direct a pilot, praying that it will sell…and when it does, they end up walking away from the show. And Fox, who ordered the pilot and bought the show based on their vision, lets them go. Now the studio and network have to scramble to find someone else… who wasn’t involved with the show before… to take it over and supply a new, creative vision. Fast. It’s a thankless, no-win situation for the new showrunner but Bryce took it on and made the show his own. Because he’s a pro. I’ve been in a similar position two or three times myself (SHE-WOLF OF LONDON, MARTIAL LAW, etc.) and you just dive in, do your best with as much enthusiasm as possible, and try not to think about all the landmines in your path.