'Heathers' Reboot, Scrapped at Paramount Network, Sells Internationally (Exclusive)

Paramount Network ditched plans to air the satirical dramedy that features a school being blown up in a move to be respectful to victims, families and loved ones impacted by school shootings. A search for a new U.S. home continues.
Courtesy of TV Land
'Heathers'

Heathers will air after all.

Paramount Network, which scrapped the controversial reboot in June, has sold the dramedy that features a school being blown up to multiple international territories. The international sales help recoup some of the cost for the 10-episode drama. Sources note that multiple U.S. homes — including Netflix and Freeform — have passed on the series. Efforts to find a U.S. home for the anthology continue.

The Viacom-owned outlet has sold Heathers to HBO in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. The series started airing twice a week on July 11 on HBO Go with a weekly linear run beginning in September in those territories. Additionally, HBO subscribers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden started getting episodes twice a week on HBO Go on July 11. Subscribers in Spain and Andorra got the first three episodes on HBO Go on the same date, with the remaining installments dropping July 18. Additionally, HBO subscribers in Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea, Bissau, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe will get the series on HBO Go at a date to be determined.

Elsewhere, Digiturk has licensed Heathers in Turkey and Cyprus for premium subscribers with weekly episodes launching July 20. OTE in Greece will get one episode a week starting July 15, and Iceland on July 12 got SVOD and linear rights via Siminn.

Paramount Network scrapped the Heathers reboot in June amid sensitivity concerns. The series, from showrunner Jason Micallef and directed by Leslye Headland, was delayed from its original March premiere on the newly rebranded Paramount Network (formerly Spike) following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead. A new premiere date was never formally announced, though the cabler had envisioned an early July bow before the Santa Fe school shooting occurred.

"This is a high school show, we're blowing up the school, there are guns in the school, it's a satire and there are moments of teachers having guns. It's hitting on so many hot topics. This company can't be speaking out of both sides of its mouth, saying the youth movement is important for us and we've done all these wonderful things to support that and at the same time, we're putting on a show that we're not comfortable with," said Keith Cox, Paramount Network president of development and production. Cox, who spoke at length with The Hollywood Reporter about the decision (read the interview here), developed the show originally for TV Land and brought it with him to corporate sibling Paramount Network once the cable network was rebranded as Viacom's general entertainment hub. Sources say Paramount Network believed so strongly in the creative that the cabler nearly renewed the series for a second season weeks after Parkland. "The combination of a high school show with these very dark moments didn't feel right," Cox said.

The decision to pull the plug on the anthology — which was poised to feature a largely new cast in its second season — came after multiple meetings internally with Paramount Network president Kevin Kay, Cox and senior vp development Brad Gardner, as well as Viacom corporate execs including CEO Bob Bakish. Ultimately, the decision to not air Heathers on any Viacom platform was made after the youth-focused conglomerate supported the movement that sprang out of Parkland by going dark across all of its brands for 17 minutes in a show of support for the victims in the Florida high school shooting.

Meanwhile, Cox and company are actively trying to find a new home for the drama, which follows a new set of popular-yet-evil Heathers, since Paramount Network executives strongly believe in the Heathers reboot. The original TV Land pilot was filmed in November 2016 — as Cox says, "before the climate changed." (Heathers was originally envisioned as a half-hour comedy, but was expanded to an hour after the pilot came in at 44 minutes and network execs decided to make it TV Land's first hourlong show.)