Some TV shows find life after going off air
09/20/2008 12:00 AM
09/19/2008 3:18 PM
Two new shows this fall – “90210” on the CW and “Knight Rider” debuting at 8 p.m. Wednesday on NBC – are blasts from the past, remakes of earlier series with new-century twists.
Remakes are fairly rare. Shows have their runs on TV and disappear.
But some shows find new life by jumping from TV to film – a surprising number. We're talking everything from “X-Files” to the “Flintstones” to “Scooby Doo.” Even “The Simpsons” jumped to cinema and there's no end in sight to their Sunday adventures on Fox.
This season also has another rarity – a show jumping from literature to TV. That would be NBC's “Crusoe,” an adaption of Daniel Defoe's classic castaway novel, coming in October. Books to TV are usually miniseries material, but some go for the long run.
HBO's wickedly enthralling “True Blood,” based on the Stookie Stackhouse vampire novels by Charlaine Harris and produced by “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball, is in a 12-episode run now and its chances for renewal are A-positive.
And occasionally, shows go the other way – TV to books. “Star Trek” is perhaps the best example with a long row of titles on the fantasy/sci-fi shelf.
Thinking this week about shows that have switched media, I can come up with dozens. Who knew?
In the critter world, “Flipper” was a movie in 1963 and a series the following year. It has had a couple of minor comebacks both in film and on TV. “Rin Tin Tin” hit the cinema in 1947 and TV in the mid-50s. “Lassie Come Home” got to the theaters in 1943 and began a long run on TV in 1954.
Other recent titles jumping from TV to cinema include “Get Smart,” “Sex and the City” and “Charlie's Angels.” Digging deeper, there's also “My Favorite Martian,” “Addams Family,” “The Fugitive,” “Miami Vice” and “George of the Jungle.” A live-action movie based on “The Jetsons” is expected in 2009.
“Mission Impossible” gave birth to three movie sequels, notable for the fact that they were fantastically successful, unlike most TV-to-big screen projects. “Bewitched” bombed, actor Vic Morrow was killed on the movie set of “Twilight Zone” in 1982, and “Reno 911” was a theatrical misdemeanor. Dan Aykroyd's 1987 “Dragnet” – based on the classic TV series that was based on the classic radio series – not only switched mediums, but tried lamely to insert comedy. Its biggest mystery was how it even got released.
Likewise, Brian De Palma's 1987 movie version of “The Untouchables” was so-so at best, despite a cast that included Kevin Costner, Sean Connery and Robert De Nero. “Lost In Space” crashed and burned.
Moving from film to TV is a tricky business, too. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” a romantic hit at the box office, tried to capture the glow on CBS with “My Big Fat Greek Life.” It was a short life. Fox's “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” based on the “Terminator” series, is not a ratings smash either.
“Friday Night Lights,” the high-school football series returning to NBC in January, made the journey from book to movie to TV. It is critically praised, but still struggles to find viewers.
Most successful movie spinoff? My vote to goes to “M*A*S*H,” based on the droll 1970 comedy with Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall. TV's adaption ran for a decade and its final episode in 1983 remains the most-watched show in TV history.
Charlotte-based makeup artist John Bayless wins an Emmy for his work in HBO's “John Adams.” He has just finished working on the film “W,” about President Bush, in Shreveport, La. …
WFAE-FM (90.7) will host “Politics Unplugged,” a community conversation on the 2008 elections, at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Wachovia Theater at Discovery Place with Mike Collins of “Charlotte Talks” moderating … WMIT-FM (“The Light” 106.9) from Black Mountain, got a prestigious Marconi Award as religious station of the year at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting this week in Austin, Texas …
Making the network circuit recently was Jeff Katz, afternoon host on WBT-AM (1110), who appeared on CNN's “American Morning” Thursday to discuss the presidential race in North Carolina ... And Keven Casey, formerly with WDYT-AM (1220) and now a reporter with news radio station KTRH in Houston, was seen repeatedly on MSNBC last weekend reporting on the hurricane devastation on the Texas coast … Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs, famous for such hits as “Stay” and “Little Darlin',” made a quick comeback this week, performing live during breaks on WTVI (Channel 42) for the station's Doo Wop membership show ...
Albemarle's Kellie Pickler is scheduled to appear on “Live with Regis and Kelly” on Oct.1. It was announced this week she will be street reporter for Dick Clark's annual New Year's Eve broadcast from New York ... “NASCAR Angels,” with Rusty Wallace and Shannon Wiseman, formerly of WCCB (Fox Charlotte, Channel 18), has been renewed for a third season. In addition to its syndication to about 200 stations, it also will be broadcast on Hallmark Channel beginning in October.
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