Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Best news I've heard all day

Admittedly, I've only been up for 26 minutes, but I can't imagine I'll hear anything better all day (at least, not in the world of teevee): my buddy Joe Adalian at Variety reports that ABC has asked Rob Thomas to remake "Cupid."

"Cupid," for those who missed it during its brief 1998 run in two suicidal timeslots (on Saturday nights and then opposite "Seinfeld"), starred Jeremy Piven (back when he had his original hairline) as a man claiming to be the Roman god of love, banished to earth without his powers until he united 100 new couples to prove his worth to the gods; and Paula Marshall (back before the word "showkiller" automatically accompanied her name) as the shrink assigned to convince the guy that he's just a man with mental health problems.

It was romantic, it was funny, it was moving (it fit the Little Bit of Everything criteria that defines my favorite movies and TV shows, from "Midnight Run" to "Freaks and Geeks"), and unlike some other brilliant but canceled shows that have broken my heart (say, "Nothing Sacred," from the previous ABC season), I firmly believe it could have been a big hit under different circumstances. As Rob notes in Joe's story, the ABC of 2007 is far better equipped to support a show like it than they were in '98.

The show's never been issued on DVD (Rob blames it on the studio getting out of the TV business and therefore not caring about its back catalog), but under the "everything is on YouTube" theory, I did some searching and found a poster who has archived every episode of the show, each broken into five pieces. If you don't have time to watch them all (I sure don't, dammit), two of my favorites are "Meat Market" (one of the funnier episodes, with a focus on the supporting cast headed by Jeffrey Sams and Paul Adelstein) and "Heart of the Matter" (probably the most poignant episode). "The Linguist" is also pretty cool.

I don't know if the new version will get on the air, or if they can find leads as good as Piven and Marshall (who wasn't nearly the wet blanket she usually is on the other shows she kills, even though the character is in the wet blanket mode), but this is the sort of thing that almost never happens in the business. I'm psyched.

Also, for fun's sake, anyone want to suggest which actor is manic and yet likable enough -- and willing to do TV -- to play Trevor/Cupid this time around? For some reason (maybe because I liked him in Spamalot so much) I want to say Alan Tudyk, though his energy's quite different from Piven's. Suggestions?

75 comments:

StvMg said...

It was so great to hear this news I had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn't an April Fool's Day joke.

Heart of the Matter might be my favorite hour-long episode of any show ever. I loved this show so much that I still have all the episodes on tape. It even had my favorite TV theme song ever ("Human" by the Pretenders).

I don't know if they can find two actors to match the chemistry of Jeremy Piven (who was born to play that role) and Paula Marshall, but I'd love for them to prove me wrong.

bill said...

Reactions:

1. YES!

2. No Piven? Nevermind.

3. Tudyk? That could work. And it's not his character would be needed for a Serenity revival.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the actors from Serenity ever hope that they will be remembered for something other than a five year old canceled show which didn't last a full season?

Anonymous said...

I loved this show - and I really thought I might be the only one. Which was the episode where the guy though he was Don Quixote, that had to be my favorite.

As for a Piven replacement, can't we just cancel Entourage, and have him come back to the role.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Which was the episode where the guy though he was Don Quixote

That's be Grand Delusions.

greentara said...

I'm going to say Will Arnett..if he can leave off making really terrible movies for awhile.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't know about Arnett. I loved him as GOB, but he seems to be giving that same performance in every other job he's gotten since; is he limited, or is he just typecast?

greentara said...

You make a good point. I have a feeling he's got more stuff, but I could be wrong. On the other hand, I wouldn't object to Jason Bateman either. Matthew Perry would be on the list, but he's probably burned a little after Studio 60. Plus, looking a little worn. Alan Tudyk is a wonderful choice IMO.

_bales said...

This is such great news! Thank you so much for the notice, Alan! I loved the show too, and I'm looking forward to the new version. Hopefully it makes it to broadcast. Many thanks again!

Matt said...

Tudyk, Fillion, and Baldwin have all done pretty well for themselves post-Firefly. Morena Baccarin had that guest starring gig on HIMYM and was a regular on TNT's awful "Heartland," Gina Torres had a regular gig on "Standoff," and Summer Glau recurred on "The Unit" and "The 4400" and will be a regular on "Sarah Connor Chronicles." Looks like Jewel Staite has an arc on "Stargate: Atlantis." Only Ron Glass hasn't worked much.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I loved Cupid when it was on and still dip into my video tapes (yes tapes!) of them on occasion when I need a laugh or just want to watch something funny, true and ultimately optimistic. It was great how Rob Thomas managed to keep the door open to Trever actually being Cupid without over playing it or making it corny.
I think it was some of the best tv ever, and that sadly it was just too early for audiences to get it. There seemed to be a bunch of shows coming out of ABC in that period that were just too good for what audiences were used to watching, as you mentioned Nothing Sacred but also Leaving LA, Wonderland and C-16, all shows that would actually work now as cable programing and were clearly the antecedent of shows that are on the air now, but were too edgy or clever for the network to give a chance.

But bring it back, do a reboot? I don't know... Even with Tudyk, who I think is great. I just wish that Pivens popularity on Entourage would be enough for them to release the DVD so I can get rid of my tapes!

dez said...

I think Steve the Pirate is a great choice to play Trevor/Cupid. But who could play Paula's role?

Matt said...

I've never seen "Cupid" (though the section of David Wild's "The Showrunners" about the life and death of "Cupid" is hearbreaking), but what you're looking for is someone who can play both uptight and kinda goofy, right? I'll offer up three names:

Keri Russell
Sabrina Lloyd
Cobie Smulders (if, god forbid, HIMYM gets canned)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, the Paula Marshall shrink character leans more towards uptight than goofy; it'd be kind of a waste of Lloyd, for instance. (Not as big a waste as her "Numb3rs" stint, but still.)

The key, really, is to find somebody capable of playing the Piven part and then find an actress who has great chemistry with him. The biggest thing that Marshall brought to the show was that you liked her and Piven together, both as antagonists and as a potential couple.

R.A. Porter said...

Alan Tudyk is a great suggestion, Bill. She's a little young, but I think Kayla Ewell could probably pull of the mix of sharp, witty, and vulnerable. I've been watching Freaks and Geeks for the first time (I know, I know) and was shocked when I realized the sweet, oh so slightly nerdy pretty guest star was Angie Dahl. I also think Liza Weil might be able to do it. We know she can handle rapid-fire snappy banter and she occasionally got to show some real vulnerability on GG.

All I know is this is the best news I've heard all month (it is just the third after all.) I loved this show.

Anonymous said...

If we are talking Whedon alums, Emma Caulfield hasn't been working much, has she? And Claire was stuck up and repressed but she was also snarky.

TuckPendleton said...

Is this also a de-facto cancellation for Big Shots?

Not sure how I feel about this. Wasn't part of the charm of the show -- or the charm -- the Piven/Marshall connection? Wouldn't this be like trying to remake Moonlighting without Willis and Cybil?

Trying to catch lightening in a bottle again..unlikely. I'd rather see Thomas with a new show all his own, or at the very least, hope he will take Cupid 2.0 someplace very different.

Of course, I'm sure Marshall would be glad for a role. Gotta be better than being Duchovny's babe of the week on Californication a couple of weeks ago.

Kensington said...

This is really an amazing story. I'll give it a chance, assuming they can find two decent leads who can pull it off as well as Piven and Marshall, but, again, Piven and Marshall were so perfect that it's hard to see how this would work.

I fell in love with Paula Marshall from watching Cupid and have always thought it was a terrible shame that her track record was so rocky. As for Piven, Cupid was the only show that managed to utilize that whole "Jeremy Piven" shtick without the character coming off as a raging jerk. That was no small accomplishment.

So I'm completely flummoxed as to who could replace them. What a pity that they'd have to be replaced in the first place. I know they're both a decade older, but chemistry is chemistry, and most of us know what Hollywood refused to acknowledge: romantic life doesn't end at 40.

Kensington said...

Oh, what the Hell, I'll give it a shot: could Seth Rogen play Trevor (the Jeremy Piven role)?

Alan Sepinwall said...

could Seth Rogen play Trevor (the Jeremy Piven role)?

He could, but why would he want to? Every halfway decent movie comedy script is his to turn down at the moment.

A guy like Tudyk, meanwhile, would consider getting a series lead to be a major career boost.

(I'm not insisting that Tudyk is the only choice, or the ideal one, just that I think he checks a bunch of the same boxes Piven did: good-looking, but in a way that allows him to play either the hero or the hero's goofy sidekick; versatile; can play manic well; is recognizable and yet not so successful that he wouldn't do a TV show; etc.)

Kensington said...

Was a little disappointed, reading the article, to learn that Chicago would be abandoned in favor of Los Angeles so that the show could take advantage of stunt casting opportunities.

I hate to be a Chicago snob, but I really do think that wonderful city played a particular role in the original series charm. Also, whilst Chicago may not lend itself to as many stunt casting opportunities, the original series proved that there is a large pool of first-rate actors in the windy city.

Gish said...

I saw this last night on Variety.com. It is just amazing news, and I hope it works this time as well as it worked last time, even if we only end up with another 15 episodes. Heart of the Matter is the sole video content on my Video iPod.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it will work.

The Variety article mentioned Grapevine. The first version was excellent - most particularly in the way the story of the week was told. The second version got rid of everything that made the first version worth watching, and turned it into a stupid, poorly done, sitcom.

I'm guessing the same thing will happen with Cupid. I'd really rather they just find somewhere to re-air the originals, or release them on DVD.

Genevieve said...

How about Annabeth Gish? I could see her doing uptight but then sometimes goofy and charming (picture her Mystic Pizza aspect).

BigTed said...

I'd like to assert that the "wet blanket" persona was the show's fault, not Marshall's -- and that's something that would have to be fixed for a retread of the show to be a success. You can be cynical, disillusioned or repressed about romance without being a total stick-in-the-mud. .

As for an actress to replace Marshall, I recommend Carla Gugino -- she's fantastic, and people always get them confused anyway.

melissa169a said...

Alan, am in tears at the mere mention of Nothing Sacred. Have it on tape (except for the ones they apparently showed in Lisbon, but not here in the States). LOVED that show, miss it, why is it not on DVD? Somehow missed Cupid, so will go to Youtube and can't wait to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion. Why not do it with them ten years later? Why is age always a factor in Hollywood? If they had chemistry then, they probably still do. Bah humbug.........

drake leLane said...

Hey... I just noticed in the pilot, that's FNL's Connie Britton singing (badly, but endearing just the same) "Since I Fell For You," and acting as half of the first couple that Trevor tries to get together.

drake leLane said...

Here's the YouTube link to Connie Britton singing.

Susan said...

I missed Cupid the first time, but I'm wondering if Rosemary DeWitt could fill the Paula Marshall role? And since it seems like "Standoff" has been cancelled, perhaps Ron Livingston for the Piven role. I also never saw Standoff, but everyone said that these two had great chemistry in it.

Bill said...

When my ex and I were in grad school, this was the only show we made time for (and we saw a lot of the Malcolm McDowell Fantasy Island, which I think must have followed it? or maybe it just aired on what was a slow night for us). We kept saying, "is he or isn't he?" is a much better ongoing question than "will they or won't they."

Any time it comes up in conversation, no one has any idea what we're talking about. Never would have imagined it'd be resurrected, even if it doesn't make it back to air. How cool.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I love Livingston, and the chemistry he had with DeWitt was really the only reason to watch Standoff, but he doesn't nearly bring enough crazy for the part. You need to believe that Trevor could be a nutcase, or he could really be Cupid, and you need to believe both concepts equally. Livingston's much too laid back for either one.

Taleena said...

Lord knows I love Alan "there will be much pain... and fonging" Tudyk; but he is too white to play a Greek god. The role calls for a sexy, hairy, built little guy like Stanley Tucci. Who is not too proud to be a regular TV star as he has played a regular on ER.

R.A. Porter said...

This one's going to bug people, but I think Jack Black could pull it off really well.

However, since it's the lead in an American hour-long show, he has to be British. James Nesbitt.

anon said...

Alan,

Does this increase or decrease the odds of the original series being released on DVD?

Anon

Alan Sepinwall said...

Does this increase or decrease the odds of the original series being released on DVD?

I would guess decrease. When CBS was doing the "Grapevine" remake, the network went out of its way to keep critics or other people from getting a look at any episodes of the original series, lest anyone decide that the remake suffered in comparison.

Christy said...

Taleena, apparently Greeks, or rather Achaeans, of classic times were fair. At least according to Homer. Menelaus was a red head. Grey eyed Athena - White armed Athena and Hera. Red headed Tudyk would work fine.

drake leLane said...

What about The Daily Show's Jason Jones, or even SNL's Jason Sudeikis in the role? They're both kind of similar, but they embody that Rob Thomas schtick of wise-cracking everyman (and both can subtley shift into manic without it seeming too forced.)

Both would obviously be a risk.

Todd said...

How about Autumn Reeser for the female lead?

And *sniff* this was the first show that personally wounded me via cancellation. I was JUST too young for My So-Called Life.

Robert said...

Wow, I don't know what to say, this show was my first introduction to
internet fandom, I got my VCR copies of the show after it was canceled from someone in Syracuse NY, so the tapes are full of weather advisories and promos for the Orangemen's trip to whatever bowl game that year, but I still try to watch them at least once a year. Great news.

I just can't believe that a major network is admitting that it may have made a mistake in the past.

Kensington said...

What about Nate Corddry, or am I completely out of my mind?

Anonymous said...

Total left-field suggestion and most likely too old if they are thinking Piven is too old, but what about Chris Eigeman?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't think it's that Piven's too old, by the way. It's that he's no longer available because of "Entourage." And even if he was, I'm sure he'd think a network series beneath him at this point, right or wrong.

As for some of the other suggestions, I don't know if either Jones or Sudeikis could carry the emotional load of the part (Piven had to play some heavy, heavy scenes at times), and Nate Corddry seems far too cuddly.

R.A. Porter said...

I like Eigeman. That's an interesting choice.

How about Josh Charles? Pair the reboot of Cupid with Dirty Sexy Money and ABC could have Casey McCall and Dan Rydell on the same night again.

Alan Sepinwall said...

How about Josh Charles? Pair the reboot of Cupid with Dirty Sexy Money and ABC could have Casey McCall and Dan Rydell on the same night again.

I think Charles is too mild for the role, but it did occur to me the other day that if ABC had renewed "Six Degrees" -- which, late in its run, added Charles as to the cast as a kind of seventh degree -- they would have had almost the entire "Sports Night" cast back under the roof, save Sabrina Lloyd and Robert Guillaume (who seems to be in semi-retirement).

Andrew said...

I think Alan Tudyk is a great choice for Cupid, but what about Paul Rudd? He's doing movies, but he's not exactly a leading man. And he is clearly willing to do some TV (Friends, et al). Or, and I don't know if he can handle the emotional weight, but he can certainly have fun with the manic part, Michael Ian Black? Or his "Ed" castmate and Scrubs staple Tom Cavanaugh?

And what about Lauren Graham in the Paula Marshall role? Or is she a little too goofy? What about Cupid coming to earth as a female?

Andrew said...

Or, as long as we are talking about show killers, what about Paula Marshall-lite Rena Sofer?

Alan Sepinwall said...

what about Paul Rudd?

Hmm... His movie career's been blowing up from his association with Judd Apatow -- not as a leading man, as you note, but as the sidekick in every major studio comedy.

That said, he and Rob Thomas are friendly, and he seems grounded enough that if the part were good enough, he'd consider a series. The question is whether he can be as explosive as Piven (or Adam Goldberg, though Goldberg's manic side is rarely as charming as Piven can be).

Anonymous said...

What about Adam Brody for CUPID?

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited! Until I found this blog I thought I was the only person who loved that show. And I love the idea of Paul Rudd. Or Alan Tudyk but Tom Cavanagh is plays for laughs too much, I think.

Andrew said...

Hank Azaria?

Matt said...

Allegedly, Adam Brody (somewhat inexplicably) considers himself too good for TV now. Michael Auseillo at least strongly hinted that he was offered and turned down the Lee Pace role on "Pushing Daisies."

R.A. Porter said...

Vince Vaughn. After Fred Claus, he's going to need a series to give him back his career. Although I don't think he can handle the pathos.

Todd said...

My wife suggests Jeffrey Dean Morgan, if he can somehow free himself from Shonda Rhimes and various fictional characters apparently being willing to KILL for his alter ego.

Andrew said...

Rob Corddry

R.A. Porter said...

(Okay, I was joking about Vaughn.)

Steven Weber. While Studio 60 took a lot of the shine off of Sorkin, it at least reminded people that Weber's not a Hack(ett).

Anthony Foglia said...

I don't think anyone's going to top Tudyk, but that won't stop me from adding another name. Nicholas Brendan. He might be too comedic, but he did have some good serious stuff in "Buffy"'s later seasons.

It's a hard role. Cupid needs to make the audience think he's crazy, yet root for him anyway, and then when his plans work, think maybe he's not crazy after all. Think Barney from "How I Met Your Mother" but instead of helping you get laid, he's helping you find your soulmate.

Another suggestion: Dominic Monaghan. I think he could do both crazy yet endearing, but he'd probably have to lose the accent.

RandomRanter said...

Actually, I really love the idea of Nicholas Brendan. I think he has that thing where you'd believe he was nuts but still be willing to go along with what he suggested.

Anon said...

Alan,

I would guess decrease.

So the only way I get DVDs is if the remake fails and ABC just tries to make a quick buck off the old version.

In that case I suggest Jason Gedrick and Paget Brewster.

Anon

Karen said...

Dear lord in heaven, I loved this show. It was part of my ongoing Piven love, dating from when I first saw him on "Ellen" and then subsequently back-dated to "Say Anything..." which I hadn't realized had him until later.

I have a difficult time picturing a new "Cupid" without Piven, though. His energy is so distinctive. Tudyk is a possibility, yeah. But I don't know...whatever actor they got would really have to reinvent the role in order to avoid being Piven Lite (I'm looking at YOU, Jack Black Lite on "Reaper"), and then it wouldn't be "Cupid" any more.

I think I'd be happier if they jsut released the damn DVDs.

hmf said...

Lauren Graham is an excellent suggestion. She and Nicholas Brendon would be a wonderful pairing.

Other thoughts:
Lisa Kudrow, perhaps, before Hollywood starts casting her as a grandmother. Yikes. Or Selma Blair. Rashida Jones? Keri Russell was another nice suggestion.

Having a harder time with men. Paul Rudd is on the right track, but he is too...gentle.

I say:
Don McKellar!

Or:
Ken Marino!

hmf said...

On second thought, typecasting or not, Will Arnett gets my vote.

I think the role would afford him enough pathos to bring out that husband-of-the-FBI-agent- who-got-Adriana-to-flip side of him.

BCB said...

oh, THANK YOU for the YouTube link. I've been looking for this on DVD for years with no success.

Casting? I'll vote for Lauren Graham and Alan Tudyk, because they're both great with snappy dialogue and in the TV studio of my mind, they'd have great chemistry. I like the Paul Rudd suggestion, too.

Nicole said...

I loved Cupid as well, but ABC put it on Saturday night just before the Malcolm McDowell Fantasy Island so it didn't have a chance to catch an audience.

As for Cupid, I would nominate someone a little obscure - Scott Cohen. I recall him from the 10th Kingdom miniseries where he played Wolf the slightly crazy but charming "wolf". He has also worked with Lauren Graham on Gilmore Girls and I think she would be a good choice as well.

Withnail said...

Who says that cupid has to be in his 30's? Why not cast the man who can do anything, Ian McShane?

Wait, fuck it, just cast Ian McShane is bring back the rest of the Deadwood cast and MAKE THOSE MOVIES.

Sorry. bad week.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Rob Thomas may have been good, but no way I trust him to deal with romance. Rape isn't funny.

Anonymous said...

Dane Cook as Cupid?

dez said...

Dane Cook sucks.

Devin McCullen said...

Just a wild thought, if it's intended for next season and not this one: Donald Faison. Although I'm not sure if he's got the dramatic chops for it, I'm not sure that he doesn't.

One side note: While I didn't actually watch the show (idiot!), I did think that the theme song was wrong, as much as I love the Pretenders. The theme song should have been...."Cupid"! This is not that hard to figure out.

Genevieve said...

I am loving the suggestions of Hank Azaria, Rob Corddry (nowhere near as cuddly as Nate), Dominic Monaghan or Donald Faison.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Just a wild thought, if it's intended for next season and not this one: Donald Faison. Although I'm not sure if he's got the dramatic chops for it, I'm not sure that he doesn't.

Interesting. I honestly don't know if the network would agree to a black Cupid, even though I think Faison may have the chops to do it. (He's got the same kind of pushy-charming thing that Piven has.) Sad, but true.

While we're talking about "Scrubs" people, my buddy Phil suggested someone else: John C. McGinley. If they're insisting on a guy in his 30s, he's a no, but I don't know that there's anything that Piven can do that McGinley can't.

R.A. Porter said...

If age is off the table, how about Michael Keaton? He might have reached a career point where he wouldn't be afraid of taking on a meaty TV role.

Christy said...

I'll second Scott Cohen! I had such a crush on him in that 10th Kingdom mini. He does great crazy sexy.

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