'Heathers' Reboot Delayed Following Parkland Shooting

Heathers Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of TV Land

A month after its rebranding from Spike TV, Paramount Network has its first major programming change.

The Viacom-owned cable network has opted to push its satirical reboot of 1980s cult hit film Heathers from its March 7 debut for a launch later this year. A formal date has not been determined.

The decision to push the series — and cancel its planned March 6 premiere in New York — comes as the cable network wants to be respectful to the victims and families and loved ones following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

"Paramount Network’s original series Heathers is a satirical comedy that takes creative risks in dealing with many of society’s most challenging subjects ranging from personal identity to race and socio-economic status to gun violence," the cabler said Wednesday in a statement. "While we stand firmly behind the show, in light of the recent tragic events in Florida and out of respect for the victims, their families and loved ones, we feel the right thing to do is delay the premiere until later this year."

The Parkland shooting appears to have inspired a bigger response from the media and most corners of American industry than any of the many school attacks in the U.S. that preceded it. The outspoken survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been on TV calling for legislative action to prevent gun violence and are organizing a March 24 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Their efforts have inspired big action, from Dick's Sporting Goods' decision to stop selling assault rifles to multiple companies severing ties with the National Rifle Association.

The original Heathers film, written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann, centered on Veronica (played by Winona Ryder) and her rebel boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) and their trials and tribulations dealing with the social order in high school. The updated TV take, set in the present day, 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) will be portrayed by Jasmine Mathews; Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty in the film) is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath (Brendan Scannell); and Heather Chandler (originally Kim Walker) has a body like Martha Dumptruck and will be played by Melanie Field. Newcomers James Scully and Grace Victoria Cox star as J.D. and Veronica, respectively. Original Heathers star Doherty guest-stars in the pilot, which was directed by Leslye Headland and written by showrunner Jason Micallef.

In his review, THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg said, "Handling the place of school shootings in contemporary life within Heathers was a no-guts-no-glory proposition, but so was adapting the movie for TV in the first place." 

Watch the red-band trailer for Heathers, below.

Heathers, originally developed for corporate sibling TV Land, was poised to be Paramount Network's second scripted original following the miniseries Waco.

Heathers becomes the latest TV series to be delayed following real-world events. USA Network's Shooter, for example, was delayed twice due to deadly shootings in the U.S.