January 16, 2014 1:33pm PT by Lacey Rose
A&E Developing 'Highway to Heaven' Reboot From Mark Wahlberg (Exclusive)
Highway to Heaven is making an edgy comeback.
A&E is developing a contemporary remake of the acclaimed late-1980s Michael Landon drama, with Mark Wahlberg on board as an executive producer. The project, which centers on an angel sent down to earth to help troubled souls, is being penned by former Hell on Wheels showrunner John Wirth.
The project is being co-produced by Bob DeBitetto's newly launched A&E Studios and Noreen Halpern's Halfire-Core Entertainment, in association with Wahlberg's Closest to the Hole Productions and his manager and producing partner Stephen Levinson's Leverage Entertainment. Wahlberg and Levinson (Boardwalk Empire), along with Halpern, Wirth and Wayne Lepoff of the Landon estate are all attached as executive producers.
The original, which ran for five seasons on NBC, starred Landon as Jonathan Smith, an angel sent down on probation, and his Little House on the Prairie co-star Victor French as human companion Mark Gordon. Together, the pair is given assignments by God as Landon's character looks to earn his wings. If the remake is ultimately ordered to series, Highway would join other A&E scripted efforts Longmire, Bates Motel and Chloe Sevigny's upcoming project Those Who Kill.
In its bid for greater ownership, A&E launched its own in-house studio this past spring, moving DeBitetto from head of the network to head of the studio, among other things, at that time. Halfire-Core, a scripted venture between Marc Graboff's Core Media Group and Halpern's Halfire Entertainment, was launched only a few months before that. The latter, which focuses on innovative financing models that result in straight-to-series orders, has a robust development slate that includes Fox event series Billy the Kid and NBC comedy Working the Engels.