'Charlie's Angels': Back Story Will Be Chief Among ABC Series' Differences

Producers also note a replacement for Robert Wagner, who voiced Charlie in the pilot, is "coming shortly."
Bob D’Amico/ABC
"Charlie's Angels"

Turns out the remake for ABC’s upcoming Charlie’s Angels has been a long time coming.

Executive producers Leonard Goldberg, Al Gough and Miles Millar said Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills that the reboot had been gestating for more than a year when ABC first went out to Sony Pictures Television about bringing the Angels back to the small screen.

“We turned this down a couple times before we said yes,” Gough said. “We know a show like this has a big target on its back.”

Gough and Millar, exec producers on the CW’s long-running Smallville – itself a Superman remake – signed on and opted to give the reboot a fresh hook that was different enough from the 1970s series and big-screen features.

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“We went back and looked at Charlie’s Angels and what worked in the 1970s series, what worked in the films and it has a chance to work again,” Millar said, noting that the series needed an original take and material while still keeping the DNA essential to the original. Among the changes, setting the series in Miami and making it more international, while broadening the Angels and making them multidimensional.

“The movies were 10 years ago and were like superhero movies for girls,” he noted. “What we wanted to bring to the table was making it more grounded, making them feel more real, giving them back stories; we gave them each a past.”

Gough noted that while the Angels -- Minka Kelly, Annie Ilonzeh and Rachael Taylor -- all still had to be beautiful and sexy they also had to be warm and relatable.

“This is a family; their agency is a family,” he said. “Their business is being a detective and the family secrets take us through week to week.”

The ABC drama, which also counts former big-screen Angel Drew Barrymore among its executive producers, will still be about ass-kicking female detectives solving cases, but producers noted their back stories will be a an ongoing part of the series, with each episode offering additional clues for Eve (Kelly), Kate (Ilonzeh), Abby (Taylor) and “the fourth Angel,” Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez).

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“This is a show about redemption and second chances,” Gough noted. “The ladies have pasts and Charlie’s giving them a second chance. One of the Angels will be at the tip of the spear [in each episode].”

Producers also noted Sunday that Charlie and Bosley’s relationship will be among the stories explored in the ABC series. Rodriguez noted that much of the mystery will come from Bosley. “He has a lot of secrets on Charlie and we’ve been trying to figure out who he is and when that’s revealed,” Rodriguez. “Each episode there’s a tip … but he’s still an enigma.”

Meanwhile, producers said a replacement for Robert Wagner, who voiced Charliein the pilot and departed over scheduling issues, is “coming shortly.”

Asked if there’s any chance of former Angels, like Cheryl Ladd, appearing in the series, both Millar and Gough were open to the idea and cited the method in which they did the same on Smallville with actors with Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, Dean Cain.

“Once we establish our show and what our series is, there’s definitely room down the line for appearances by people and characters from other iterations," Gough said "We honor what’s come before by finding a new twist on a character.”

Charlie’s Angels premieres Thursday, Spt. 22 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit

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