Friday, March 14, 2008

Remakin' Rob Thomas

Was a little too busy yesterday to get around to the double shot of Rob Thomas-related news: the CW has hired him to write a "Beverly Hills, 90210" spin-off/remake/sequel, while ABC finally gave the go-ahead for him to make a pilot for the long-discussed (around here, anyway) "Cupid" remake.

No doubt the two are related -- I'm assuming ABC heard about Thomas' "90210" deal and quickly moved to take "Cupid" from script to pilot -- and if both networks try to take these pilots to series, "Cupid" would have contractual priority for Thomas' services because he started working on it first. (Though that wouldn't doom the "90210" remake; Thomas could either try to do both, ala Josh Schwartz with "Chuck" and "Gossip Girl" this year, or else hand "90210" off to someone else.)

I'll cop to a certain amount of "90210" nostalgia, as those characters (but not actors) were all my age -- or, at least, they were after the producers had everybody but David Silver repeat a grade without anyone noticing or commenting on it. It was cheeseball as hell, sincere to a fault, and the best performance in the show's history probably came from Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (future Oscar winner Hilary Swank got fired after a season because they didn't think she had "it"), yet if I pass a rerun while channel-surfing, I can usually identify the season within seconds, and if I actually put it on during the opening titles, I'm pretty much stuck for the rest of the hour. I'm not proud of it but I imagine slightly younger viewers feel the same way about "Saved by the Bell" or "Dawson's Creek" (or, one day, "One Tree Hill").

Rob showed with "Veronica Mars" that he could tell high school stories dealing with the standard topics in a smart, involving way (though he'd obviously have to ditch the noir), and Schwartz showed with "The O.C." that there are other fresh ways to approach this kind of material, so if that remake goes forward, I'd definitely be interested. No idea whether it'll be a remake, or a sequel where one or two of the characters are the kids of original "90210"-ers, ala the new "DeGrassi." (How old would Andrea's kid be by now? Gabrielle Carteris would probably come cheap and not be a headache, and they could still deal with the class-consciousness stuff, since Andrea was always ambivalent about going to that school.)

As for the "Cupid" remake, it'll be set in LA to allow for stunt-casting. (You may remember Rob saying that the network was always pushing him to stunt-cast the guest stars on the original; the executives may change and 10 years may pass, but the attitudes are the same.) And its success is going to depend almost entirely on who they get to play the Jeremy Piven part (and then whether they can find an actress who clicks with him as well as Paula Marshall clicked with Piven). I still haven't heard a Eureka-level casting suggestion, but the floor remains open.

37 comments:

Pale Writer said...

Matthew Perry and Lauren Graham? Matthew Perry, I think, can pull off the "I may be crazy, but, you know, I'm pretty damned likable" thing. The most important aspect of Piven's Cupid was that the girl never thought he was coming onto them. It was always accepted that he really was helping out his friend. I really think Perry can bring that level of non-threatening-ness to the show.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Alan. First you're an American Idol fan, and now you admit that you watched 90210 religiously???? My heart is breaking. = )

jcpbmg said...

I mentioned Grahm over on throwing things, and no doubt her and Perry would be awesome, but she's locked down in a 1 year deal with NBC and also her company is set up at Warners.

But I won't lie, the thought of Perry and Grahm does make me smile.

However along that line Jane Kazmarek comes to mind, the only problem being she's a tad older and I've never seen her in any slightly serious roles (and Cupid did try to get sentimental at times).

Withnail said...

Alan Tuddyk. There. Done.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Andrea's kid would be old enough yet. But Kelly and David's sister Erin would definitely be around the right age. They could follow her and her friends and easily work in appearances by the original gang.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, Alan. First you're an American Idol fan, and now you admit that you watched 90210 religiously???? My heart is breaking. = )

Did you not read the part where I said I wasn't proud of this?

And now it's time to enable to macro about how I can't subsist entirely on a diet of highbrow TV.

That First Andrew said...

Ive said it before and I will say it again: Paul Rudd

Anonymous said...

Are Perry and Graham any younger than Piven and Marshall? Why not just go with the original actors if we're willing to stretch the age of the characters that much.

Paul Rudd at least looks a bit younger, and I could see him playing the part well.

Friend of Robs said...

Anonymous That First Andrew said...

Ive said it before and I will say it again: Paul Rudd


Considering Paul Rudd is Rob Thomas' best friend, you're probably not far off base.

Nicole said...

I am surprised that Alan is admitting to watching 90210... I absolutely don't recall any guy admitting to watching that show back during it's original run, especially when I was in high school. However, the early years were not bad and there were seminal moments... like the prom episode... that were cheesy goodness. It was also, despite its Beverly Hills trappings, a bit more realistic about teens in that they are not all cool kids, with biting sarcastic wit ready for the right moment. While you can maybe find modern equivalents to Kelly and Brenda, Andrea the social nerd and outcast is not easily found in Gossip Girl or the OC. (Maybe Summer in the latter one, but they never really played up her "smart" image to the same degree... she still was a glamour queen like the rest)

And while Hilary Swank can pretend that she is too good for 90210 with her two Oscars, they are both for gender bending roles, something that did not fit in the teen soap pantheon. Her inability to do comedy is obvious in PS I Love You (which I only watched because of Gerard Butler and it was painful even with him in it) and outside of the two roles for which she has won the Oscar, I really can't think of anything that she has been decent in.

I also like Perry and Graham for Cupid, but I doubt it will happen.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

I was always amazed by the way I osmotically picked up on whatever the big 90210 storylines were, even though I didn't watch the show...

Mike said...

Andrea's daughter Hannah, if 90210 happens in the same real time that we exist in and isn't all wonky like Lost, would be 14 this fall... which might make her a little young to be a freshman at West Beverly. But on the other hand, she's Andrea Zuckerman's kid so she probably skipped a grade. And looks 35.

BigTed said...

If they made 90210 look like the real Beverly Hills these days, the kids would be Persian, Russian and Orthodox Jewish. But there could still be a smart-but-poor Andrea Zuckerman character who actually lives in Beverly Hills-adjacent.

anna-bo-banna said...

While I do love Paul Rudd and have no doubt that he could play the Cupid role, I think he would be the wrong choice because he is too conventionally good-looking. Jeremy Piven had a very "normal guy" look, which is why he was able to approach the women without them thinking he was hitting on them (which i agree is very important for the character). I don't think a very good-looking type would be able to pull off the same thing.

On that note, I agree that Alan Tudyk would be an excellent choice!

Matthew L said...

The suggestion of Matthew Perry is the first one I've seen that I've that "That's perfect". And Lauren Graham would also be perfect - sad that she's apparently tied up at other studios.

And, since we're discussing Cupid, I just wanted to say thanks to Alan for doing the show as the Strike Survival Club. I started watching it late, and never quite caught up to your viewings, but having finished now I do love the show. It was a show I had just dismissed when it first aired here, so I was glad to have a chance to actually reassess it.

And now it's time to enable to macro about how I can't subsist entirely on a diet of highbrow TV.

Absolutely. Personally I feel a lot better about my enjoyment of The OC after hearing an episode of This American Life in which Ira Glass admitted to being a fan of that show. There are shows you watch to be challenged and stimulated, and there are shows you watch because they are well-made and fun to watch. There's nothing wrong with watching Survivor, or American Idol, or The OC, or 90210 (I assume - never actually seen it). If you're watching I Love New York or Days Of Our Lives, then that may be a justified criticism, but not for any of the shows you've discussed here.

Anonymous said...

When I first heard the 90210 news, I was afraid that it meant a "no go" for "Cupid." While, I think Rob would do a great job with both, I am really looking forward to Cupid getting another shot. As for casting, I think Michael Rosenbaum might be a good fit. In interviews he seems to have a rather off-beat sense of humor that doesn't show on "Smallville." And since he is no longer under contract there, it would free him up. Rudd would be great too. I'm just not sure he would want to be tied up with the hour long comedy/drama work schedule. Despite "Over Her Dead Body," Rudd is always a welcome sight in movies.

Isabel said...

I, for one, am giddy with anticipation over a new 90210. Like Alan, the characters were my same age and I "grew up" with them.

(Oh, and have no fear...I totally was wise to them doing a year twice and it bugged me!)

Alan Sepinwall said...

(Oh, and have no fear...I totally was wise to them doing a year twice and it bugged me!)

"90210" was still (barely) on the air when I was starting out as a TV critic, and I once met one of the show's newer writers, who refused to believe my assertion that all the kids (except David) repeated junior year with no mention. Finally, she called over a more veteran writer, who hung his head and said something about how they hoped nobody would notice.

I tried, in vain, to talk them into doing a meta moment where Kelly or Donna or one of the original characters was showing their high school yearbook to one of the newbies, and the newbie would ask what the story was with them doing the same year twice, followed by an awkward silence and a "We don't like to talk about that."

(Hey, if it worked for Worf and the original Klingon makeup on a "Deep Space Nine" episode, it woulda worked there. Sigh...)

jcpbmg said...

I too have to agree that Paul Rudd is just too mainstream attractive. I think back to Clueless and how he tried to play the off-beat Josh and it just didn't work.

(And yes, despite future roles I associate Rudd directly with Clueless)

Mike said...

Hey Alan,
You forgot the obvious character/actor who can bridge the gap between old and new: It's time for Thomas to log a call to JOE E. TATA! Yup, the Peach Pit is still around, and Nat is still slinging burgers and advice to a new generation of West Beverlyans! ("Peach Pit After Dark," unfortunately, has been replaced by a Pinkberry.)

Jimmy Aquino said...

Someone on an earlier post about the "Cupid" remake said Donald Faison (a.k.a. Turk) would be awesome as Trevor (or whatever name he'll assume in the remake). Faison would be perfect, but I assume he's unavailable, now that ABC has given "Scrubs" one more season. I would have liked to have seen a black Cupid.

jcpbmg said...

and I seriously hope Amanda Peet stays as far away from this show as possible

Doug S said...

Writing as a fan of 90210, Cupid and Rob Thomas, I still have to say both these items scare the crap out of me. 90210 was of a specific time, for the show, the actors and viewers, and that time has long come and gone. At least call it something else.

Cupid was pure genius and it pains me to think Thomas will try it again - with stunt casting!! Why would it work now? You'll never recreate the chemistry between Piven and Marshall, and LA will suck the soul right out of any of the purity and innocence of the story. A guy who thinks he's Cupid in LA?!? He must be looking for a part on Entourage. Or a reality show. Tom Skerritt as Zeus! Liz Hurley as Aphrodite! No two actors can make this work. And let's not forget how great Jeffrey Sams was as well.

I have loved Thomas' work (except for season 2 of Veronica Mars) and it pains me to think he has been so burned by tv suits that he'll do anything to get a hit. I just wish he was trusted enough to write something new.

On the bright side, a remake of Cupid should mean a dvd release of the original.

Nicole said...

If someone really wants to be highbrow, then that person doesn't watch television period and only reads books. Drama or teen soap opera, it's still tv.

90210 started out with the main cast in the 10th grade (except Silver and his dorky friend who were freshman) but, 4 years later, they all graduated together. (and Silver's dorky friend was in the grave) Anyone who was paying the slightest attention would have noticed this, especially if you were in their target audience, pre-teens and high school kids.

My theory is that when Brenda left, it all started to fall apart. (Ok, there was one good year of Valerie but that's it)

I think Michael Rosenbaum is a great suggestion, especially as he won't be on Smallville full time next year. He was excellent on it's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and showed that he has the quirky sensibility to make Cupid work.

christy said...

But I'm pretty sure they had this whole thing where David took extra classes so he could graduate early or something. Right?

Anyway, since 90210 is pretty much the ultimate age-fudging teen drama of all time (and teen dramas tend to be pretty fudgy when it comes to age), I think it would be perfect if, for the spin-off, they just had Erin Silver, Andrea's kid, and Steve's kid all in the same tenth grade class. It would be the perfect "yeah, that's right, what, you think we give a damn about continuity?" move.

Plus I think I've seen Gabrielle and Ian both on the local news recently pimping reality shows they're on, so you know they'd sign on. And I'm sure Luke Perry's good for the occasional guest spot. Man, they should hire me for this puppy, I swear.

Dark Tyler said...

Two things I want from the new 90210, and two things only. One, they re-team the goofy duo of Steve Sanders and David Silver, epsecially now that Brian Austin Green is quasi-cool out of nowhere.

Two, Claire Arnold as the zip code's MILF. Yes.

Anonymous said...

Alan, this summer I demand you start a "Degrassi: The Next Generation" blog. That show is more awesome than "Sopranos," "The Wire," and "Deadwood" combined.

filmcricket said...

My theory is that when Brenda left, it all started to fall apart.

Agreed. Every soap needs an alpha bitch. Witness Melrose's ratings rise after Heather Locklear showed up. (That might have had something to do with it being Heather Locklear, but still.)

I still can't think of anyone I'd rather see step into Cupid's wings than Faison. Perry's a bit too old and I'm afraid his version of crazy-but-non-threatening would be too much like Chandler's manic moments. (And I loathe Lauren Graham; I wouldn't watch it if she were cast.)

For the Claire role, what about Sabrina Lloyd? She's not as hot as Paula Marshall, but she can do comedy and she can do banter. I don't know if she can do sexual tension, though.

I also think Maura Tierney could do something with the role, but ER apparently will not die, and in any case she's only a year younger than Marshall so then they'd need to get someone Perry's age or thereabouts to play Trevor.

jcpbmg said...

I like the idea of Tierney, she was great on NewsRadio and she's only signed on to do a few episodes of ER next season so would be free (although there might be a contract clause since ABCT is producing Cupid)

I'd even say Perry and Tierey would be a nice combo. And since we're just doing dream casting now, how Janney, she's dearly missed on television.

(Also it's pretty sad the lack of quality 30-something year old actors there are out there)

Matt said...

Janney has a theatrical commitment--she's one of the leads in Broadway-bound musical "9 to 5." Could Jason Bateman work as Trevor? He could seem to bring the right level.

Taleena said...

Alan Tyduk is starring in a new lawyer-y show with Kurtwood Smith this fall, I am pretty sure.

Paul Rudd would be a fine Cupid as would David Anders. It will be a challenge to find someone who is earthy, and charismatic and not also come across as sincere when they pick up women for a "friend".

Anonymous said...

I was watching Picket Fences on hulu.com when it occurred to me that Holly Marie Combs and Paula Marshall are kind of similar. Maybe she could be in Cupid?

Anonymous said...

Never would have occurred to me but David Anders actually seems like a fantastic idea. He would certainly be all over the delivery of the one-liners. And dare I suggest Kristen Bell? Sure, it's a lotta blonde and a helluva lotta attractive but, really, are we going to hold that against them?

Anonymous said...

And now it's time to enable to macro about how I can't subsist entirely on a diet of highbrow TV.

Absolutely. Personally I feel a lot better about my enjoyment of The OC after hearing an episode of This American Life in which Ira Glass admitted to being a fan of that show.


I loved the OC. I can't believe people would even compare the OC with horrendous cheesy crap like 90210. The OC had wit, and good acting, and intellect... 90210 was just horrendous; I can't even see it being a guilty pleasure because I see no pleasure in it. That's why some folks are sad that Alan admits to liking it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The OC had wit, and good acting, and intellect... 90210 was just horrendous; I can't even see it being a guilty pleasure because I see no pleasure in it. That's why some folks are sad that Alan admits to liking it.

So you're saying that there's no show or movie you've ever enjoyed, no book you've ever read, that you knew was terrible even as you were experiencing it, but couldn't resist, anyway? You've never had a single guilty pleasure?

I'll be the very first to say that The O.C. (especially seasons 1 and 4) was vastly, vastly superior to 90210, the kind of show 90210 wanted to be but never came close to. And I expect the Thomas-written version of 90210 (if it gets made) to also be a huge improvement on the original.

But sometimes, you just need to watch something completely devoid of any nutritional content. It's junk food -- and the kind you regret eating shortly after opening the package, yet the kind you can't resist buying again the next time you go to the store.

lunatic96 said...

While we're on the topic of Rob Thomas related projects have you heard anything about the long-rumored Veronica Mars comic book? I've heard a couple mentions of it a few months ago, but there hasn't been any thing close to a peep for awhile.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see Jason Dohring in the lead for cupid. He is amazing in how he delivers lines whether it be funny, snarky or serious and brings his all to every performance. Also he has chemistry with just about everybody.