Television & Film

THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO Gets Production Commitment

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Back in August, we reported that The Greatest American Hero was getting the remake/reboot treatment, with Fox giving a put pilot order for the new series.

Now Deadline reports that Fox has given a pilot production commitment for a new attempt, meaning that Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) and Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) can move forward on the next steps to bringing the show to series. They’ll produce the reboot of the 1981 show created by Steven J. Cannell, along with Tawnia McKiernan, Cannell’s daughter.

In the original show, high school teacher Ralph Hinkley (William Katt) is given an extraterrestrial costume that imbues him with super powers — only he loses the instruction manual after an experiment in shrinking himself. Along the way, Ralph gets help from his fiancée, Pam Davidson (Connie Sellecca), and FBI Agent Bill Maxwell (Robert Culp), who sees the suit as a way to fight the bad guys in situations where legal actions are hampered. The on-camera comedy between Hinkley and Maxwell combined with Ralph’s ineptness with the suit to deliver a rare genre comedy that has aged … as well as can be expected.

The August reports had the reboot following almost exactly the same premise: teacher finds the suit and pairs off with a federal law enforcement agent, only the teacher this time would be black and working in the inner city. This new report from Deadline leaves it more vague and open, describing the show thusly: “An ordinary man, completely content with being average, wakes up with a superpower suit he never asked for and has to deal with the complications it brings his life.”

So, either the duplication has been dropped (which would be a good thing) or it’s being held back to keep the comparisons between the versions to a minimum. But if it’s treated like a sequel, there are more opportunities for both new stories and a visit from Katt and Sellecca. The original show established that others have had the suit before Hinkley, and he passed it along to Holly Hathaway (Mary Ellen Stuart) after his secret identity was compromised, so there’s in-show precedent for this to be a sequel that continues the story rather than re-treading old ground.

Fox will produce with 20th Century Television, with Lord Miller’s President of Television on board as an executive producer along with McKiernan, Miller, and Lord. They’ve hired a casting director to begin the search for a lead.

Famuyiwa, who was not part of the most recent attempt at a reboot, will write and direct the new pilot.

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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