9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Female-Led 'Fantasy Island' TV Series in the Works at ABC
ABC is going back to Fantasy Island.
The network is reteaming with Sony Pictures Television for a potential third TV series based on the drama that ran from 1977-84, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The new take, which has received a script plus penalty order from the network, will change things up by replacing original star Ricardo Montalban's Mr. Roarke with a woman. The potential series will follow a brilliant, dynamic and sexy woman who runs a San Francisco-based company that provides clients with his/her most intimate, dark or outlandish fantasy.
Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air, X-Men: First Class) will pen the script and executive produce alongside Jennifer Klein via their Sony Pictures Television-based Vendetta Productions banner. Studio-based Josh Berman (Drop Dead Diva, The Mob Doctor) will serve as a supervising EP.
Fantasy Island started with a pair of made-for-TV movies in 1977 before being greenlit to series. It ran for seven seasons — and 152 episodes — on Saturdays where it was paired with The Love Boat. Montalban starred alongside Herve Villechaize, who played his assistant, Tattoo, and became known for his catchphrase, "De plane! De plane!" Created by Gene Levitt, the drama was produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg's Spelling-Goldberg Productions and Sony's Columbia Pictures Television.
ABC revived Fantasy Island in 1998 from creator Barry Josephon with Malcolm McDowell taking over Montalban's role. The series took on a more supernatural vibe with co-stars Madchen Amick, Louis Lombardi, Edward Hibbert, Fyvush Finkel and Sylvia Sidney; the role of Tattoo was not included. Also from SPT, the '98 reboot was canceled midway through its 13-episode run but finished out the season on UPN and the then-Sci-Fi Channel.
More recently, Sony teamed with uber-producer Mark Burnett for a reality show built around the franchise, but that did not move forward.
The new Fantasy Island arrives as broadcast networks continue to look for intellectual property and proven brands in a bid to cut through the increasing clutter. CBS is rebooting Nancy Drew, MacGyver, Training Day and H.G. Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau; Fox is readying Behind Enemy Lines; The CW is prepping The Notebook and Friday the 13th; and studio 20th Century Fox Television is shopping a reboot of The A-Team, while Norman Lear is rebooting One Day at a Time (though there is no network yet attached). Fox also has revivals of The X-Files and Prison Break in the works after recently rebooting 24.
This season's reboots and revivals have debuted to mixed reactions. Fox's Minority Report has faltered in its early episodes and had its episode order trimmed to 10; NBC's Heroes had a modest debut, while CBS found early success with Bradley Cooper's Limitless follow-up. Additional revival series based on Rush Hour (CBS) and Uncle Buck (ABC) are due later this season.
For Turner, the deal reunites him with ABC ,where he had drama pilot The Advocate in contention last year. Fantasy Island marks his second sale this season. He also has a surfing drama The 808 in the mix at Fox. He's repped by CAA. Berman, meanwhile, now has three sales this development season — all based on intellectual property. He's reteaming with CSI's Carol Mendelsohn for an In the Line of Fire reboot at NBC, and has a modern take on Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn set at CBS. He's with CAA and attorneys Ken Richman and Jason Hendler