BLOGS

From 21 Jump Street to Family Ties: How to Remake Classic '80s TV Shows for the Big Screen

How in the world could anyone make a good movie out of the campy '80s cop series 21 Jump Street? Well, if you're the film's creative brain trust -- a team that includes stars/producers Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller -- your keep the basic premise of the show (undercover cops go back to high school) and change almost anything else. So instead of an earnest procedural where both the cops and teens learn Important Life Lessons, you've got a rollicking buddy action comedy about two guys who get the chance to relive their school days only to discover high school isn't quite how they remember it. The success of 21 Jump Street got us thinking about the best ways to reboot other fondly (and not so fondly) remembered '80s TV shows for the big screen. You're welcome, Hollywood.

Airwolf
Aired From: 1984-1986 on CBS and USA
Original Cast: Jan-Michel Vincent, Ernest Borgnine, Deborah Pratt
Log Line: A daredevil pilot flies a tricked-out helicopter on dangerous missions for a top-secret government agency in exchange for help tracking down his POW brother.
New Pitch: With the specter of nuclear war back in the headlines due to the current situation in the Middle East, the timing seems right for another Dr. Strangelove-like satire of mankind's capacity for mutually assured destruction. We picture the film version of Airwolf as a dark comedy where a misunderstanding sends the crew of the U.S. Army's most technologically advanced helicopter on a doomsday mission that the U.N. and the rest of the international community has to scramble to stop via both diplomatic and military means.
New Director: In the Loop director (and creator of the new HBO series Veep) Armando Iannucci is easily the best political satirist around right now. He might need a little help with the F/X-driven helicopter sequences, but that's what the digital wizards at ILM are for.
New Cast: Obviously, Peter Capaldi has to reprise his foul-mouthed Scotsman role from Loop. We'd also want to enlist comic ringers like Will Arnett, Tina Fey and Chris Pratt opposite more imposing types like Glenn Close (as the President, natch) and Tom Hardy.

Cagney & Lacey
Aired From: 1982-1986 on CBS
Original Cast: Tyne Daly, Sharon Gless, Al Waxman
Log Line: An odd couple pair of female detective work together to solve crimes and their own personal problems.
New Pitch: Although groundbreaking at the time, the Cagney & Lacey formula has been ripped off so often since (most recently on the TNT show Rizzoli & Isles) you couldn't get away with a movie that's just a straight adaptation of the show. So why not go a bit more high concept and transform them from cops into costumed superheroes that have to keep their identities a secret from the public, including their own families. Don't err too far in the direction of Kick-Ass, though -- we're thinking more in the lighter vein of The Incredibles meets True Lies.
New Director: We'd be curious to see Jason Reitman's take on the superhero genre, particularly if he enlisted Diablo Cody to write the screenplay.
New Cast: How about Busy Philipps as Cagney and Michelle Williams as Lacey? They're close pals in real life, so pitting them against each other could be amusing for them... and us.

The Fall Guy
Aired From: 1981-1986 on ABC
Original Cast: Lee Majors, Douglas Barr, Heather Thomas
Log Line: A Hollywood stuntman starts a sideline gig as a bounty hunter.
New Pitch: We loved Drive so much, we're desperate to re-team Nicolas Winding-Refn and Ryan Gosling for another '80s influenced crime movie where Gosling plays a movie stunt guy with a lucrative freelance career beating up criminals rather than aiding and abetting them. Maybe he'll get a happier ending this time.
New Director: Like we said, we only want to see this movie if Refn is at the helm.
New Cast: Gosling (obviously) as the Fall Guy, James Gandolfini as the Bad Guy and Rachel McAdams as the Cute Girl.

Family Ties
Aired From: 1982-1989 on NBC
Original Cast: Meredith Baxter-Birney, Michael Gross, Michael J. Fox
Log Line: Meet the Keaton clan, the original Modern Family.
New Pitch: Along with The Cosby Show, Family Ties revitalized the family sitcom in the '80s. And, dated fashions and pop culture references aside, the gags still play today. So how could you possibly make a big screen version that's as fresh and funny as the original? Two words: Judd Apatow. Think about it: all of his movies are about families in one way or another and he's demonstrated time and time again that he has the right mixture of humor and heart that would do justice to the Keaton legacy.
New Director: Apatow would be our first choice, but we'd also be open to him producing the movie, while one of his regular collaborators (Paul Feig, Nicholas Stoller, Jake Kasdan) occupies the director's chair.
New Cast: Take your pick from the super-talented folks in Apatow's regular ensemble; our personal choices would be Paul Rudd as Steve, Catherine Keener as Elyse, James Franco as Alex, Mila Kunis as Mallory and one of Apatow's daughters (either one -- they're both the same to us) as Jennifer. (We'll just pretend like Andrew was never born.) And what about Seth Rogen, you ask? Easy -- he's gotta be Nick.

Frank's Place
Aired From: 1987-1988 on CBS
Original Cast: Tim Reid, Robert Harper, Daphne Maxwell Reid
Log Line: A Boston professor moves back to his hometown of New Orleans to run a restaurant owned by his late father.
New Pitch: No need to change the setting or basic premise -- just update the time period to post-Katrina New Orleans. That gives you an instant hook to create a compelling personal story set against the backdrop of a city struggling to bounce back from a cataclysmic disaster. Yeah, yeah we know that David Simon is covering some of this ground on Treme, but c'mon -- do you know anyone that's still watching that show?
New Director: Spike Lee has already made two exceptional documentaries about Katrina and its aftermath and some of his best fiction films (including Do the Right Thing and Clockers) are vibrant portraits of communities in crisis, so he'd be a natural fit to tackle this particular project.
New Cast: Clarke Peters as Frank (trust us on this one -- he's amazing in Lee's latest movie Red Hook Summer, which we saw at Sundance) and we'd staff the rest of the restaurant with Octavia Spencer, Anthony Mackie, Gugu Mbatah-Raw and Michael Rappaport as an aging delivery boy... just 'cause.

Hotel
Aired From: 1983-1988 on ABC
Original Cast: James Brolin, Connie Selleca, Shea Farrell
Log Line: Follow the personal dramas of the staff and guests at a plush San Francisco hotel.
New Pitch: We're thinking this could series become a contemporary American version of Gosford Park, penned by the writer of that Robert Altman classic -- and creator of the addictive British soap, Downton Abbey -- Julien Fellowes. During a busy weekend at the Bay Area's coolest, hippest hotel, a Silicon Valley hotshot turns up dead. Was it an accident or, duhn duhn duhhhhhhhn... murder? And, if it was the latter, who is the prime suspect? The hotshot's biggest business rival, who is conveniently throwing an engagement party in the grand ballroom? Or maybe the hotel concierge with the gimpy leg and checkered past? So many suspects and sudsy plotlines to boot.
New Director: Since Altman himself is sadly no longer with us, we'd look to other directors that have proven themselves capable of juggling multiple storylines and large ensembles, including Stephen Frears, Mira Nair and Altman's friend and disciple, Paul Thomas Anderson,.
New Cast: Jon Hamm seems like the natural choice to take over the role of James Brolin's hotel manager; the rest of the sizeable cast could include Jessica Chastain (since she's in everything anyway), Michael Cera (since he needs work) and Downton Abbey superfan Patton Oswalt as the slightly bumbling police detective investigating the murder.

Murder, She Wrote
Aired From: 1984-1996 on CBS
Original Cast: Angela Lansbury and 12 seasons worth of murder victims.
Log Line: Famous mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher solves real-life crimes in between books.
New Pitch: It's been pointed out many times what a bad luck charm Jessica Fletcher was, seeing as how wherever she went, somebody turned up dead -- thus giving her more material for her stories. (It's almost like she planned the murders herself or something...) The idea of a mystery writer who is repeatedly called upon to solve actual crimes sounds like the kind of grandly meta premise that Charlie Kaufman could take and run with. In his hands, the film wouldn't just be another murder mystery: it could be a profound, densely-layered comment on the nature of reality and the power of fiction.
New Director: While Kaufman transitioned nicely to directing with the brilliant 2008 feature Synecdoche, New York, we'd love to see him re-team with Spike Jonze for the third time.
New Cast: Who else but Meryl Streep could do justice to a role that Angela Lansbury originated? She killed it in Kaufman and Jonze's last film together, Adaptation, as well.

Small Wonder
Aired From: 1985-1989 in syndication
Original Cast: Tiffany Brissette, Dick Christie, Edie McClurg
Log Line: A robotics expert and suburban dad builds a robot girl named Vicki and attempts to integrate her into society.
New Pitch: We like Jonah Hill's pitch for a Todd Solondz-directed reboot of this famously bad (but still beloved) sitcom, but realistically there's no way in hell anyone would pay to make that thing. On the other hand, Christopher Nolan has acquired the clout to make absolutely anything he wants and with the Batman series wrapping up, he's obviously in need of another iconic character to revitalize. Just picture it: a dark, intensely realistic version of Small Wonder, where an inventor creates a robot girl to save the soul of his city. It's like Heat meets Metropolis. Smells like a three-movie franchise to us.
New Director: Nolan, just because that way we'd be guaranteed a sequel where Vicki faces off against her evil mirror image -- the chaos to her order -- Vanessa. Why so serious, indeed.
New Cast: We'd encourage Nolan to seek out a total unknown to take on the role of Vanessa, but Liam Neeson feels right for the role of her "father" and Melissa McCarthy could capably replace McClurg as the nosy next door neighbor.

Click here to read our Q&A with Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Click here to read our Q&A with Rob Riggle
Click here to read our interview with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum
Click here to read our review of 21 Jump Street

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