'Heathers' Anthology Scores TV Land Pilot Pickup, Leslye Headland to Direct (Exclusive)

The black comedy is a new take on the 1988 Winona Ryder and Christian Slater cult hit.
Photofest; TV Land
'Heathers' (1988); Leslye Headland (inset)

TV Land is ready to find a few Heathers.

The Viacom-owned cable network has handed out a pilot order to its Heathers comedic anthology, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, and tapped Leslye Headland (Sleeping With Other People) to direct.

The original 1988 film was written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann and centered on Veronica (Winona Ryder) and rebel boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) and their trials and tribulations dealing with the social order in high school.

TV Land's take is described as a black comedy that takes place in the present day. It features a new set of popular-yet-evil Heathers — only this time the outcasts have become high school royalty. Heather McNamara (originally played by Lisanne Falk) is a black lesbian; Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath; and Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) has a body like Martha Dumptruck.

Written by Jason Micallef (Butter), the single-camera entry hails from Lakeshore Entertainment's Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi. Insiders say the anthology component will be similar to FX's Fargo and feature a new group of "Heathers" — no matter the setting. Production on the pilot is expected to begin this fall. 

Headland, who counts features Bachelorette and About Last Night as well as FX's beloved Terriers among her credits, will helm. While Headland didn't grow up aware of Heathers, she immediately fell in love with the original film after seeing it in her 20s. "I related with it so much," she tells THR. "I can't believe they got away with so much. The movie was a huge influence on an entire generation and it'll be nice to introduce this to a new generation." The playwright (Assistance, among other works) noted that she was drawn to the project because of Micallef's involvement and TV Land's direction. "The Idea that I get to bring his vision to light is a dream come true," said Headland. She is repped by UTA and Anonymous Content. 

The TV Land incarnation marks the third time Heathers has been rebooted for the small screen. Bravo teamed with Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City, The Big C) in 2012 for a reboot that centered on "the Ashleys," the next generation of mean girls and the daughters of the Heathers from the big-screen take. The hourlong drama, which hailed from Sony Pictures Television and Lakeshore's Rosenberg and Lucchesi, was scrapped in 2013. That marked the second time Bicks and Lakeshore took on Heathers after previously selling the project to Fox in 2009.

Heathers becomes TV Land's second reboot in its current development slate. It joins pilot First Wives Club, starring Alyson Hannigan, Megan Hilty and Vanessa Lachey, that coincidentally also happens to be exec produced by Bicks. The cabler also is readying Alicia Silverstone vehicle American Woman, a comedy inspired by the life of Real Housewives' Kyle Richards and produced by John Wells (Shameless).

Heathers arrives as TV Land has undergone a rebranding in the past few years with a focus on single-camera and younger-skewing comedy after abandoning the multicamera fare (Hot in Cleveland, The Soul Man, The Exes) that helped put the cable network on the map as a destination for originals. To that end, all of its single-camera fare that has been picked up to series has gone on to earn a second season, including Younger, Teachers, Impastor and The Jim Gaffigan Show, with the latter having ended its run.

Reboots continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming outlets look for proven IP in a bid to cut through a cluttered scripted landscape that is quickly approaching 500 original series. Key to the remakes is having the original producers involved in some capacity as more studios look to monetize their existing film libraries.

Already in the works this season are reboots of The Lost Boys (CW), Varsity Blues (CMT), The Departed (Amazon) and L.A. Law, though the latter does not yet have a network attached.

The upcoming broadcast season features a number of familiar titles, including MacGyver (CBS), Training Day (CBS), Frequency (The CW), Lethal Weapon (Fox), 24: Legacy (Fox), The Exorcist (Fox) and Taken (NBC).

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