12:45pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Jean-Claude Van Damme to Star in Amazon Action-Comedy 'Jean-Claude Van Johnson' (Exclusive)
Jean-Claude Van Damme is ready to give TV a swing.
The action star is set to topline an original scripted comedy for Amazon, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the streaming service picking up Jean-Claude Van Johnson to pilot.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson marks a reunion for Van Damme with The Expendables' Dave Callaham, who is attached to pen the script and executive produce alongside Scott Free Television's Ridley Scott and David Zucker. Peter Atencio will direct. The project has been in the works since late 2014, when Callaham wrote it on spec for Scott Free and Van Damme. Production is being eyed to start in mid-May in Los Angeles. Amazon, Gersh, who reps Van Damme, and WME, who rep Scott Free, all declined comment.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson will star Van Damme as a version of himself — a famous actor and martial-arts pro who comes out of retirement to resume his alter-ego: an undercover private contractor by the name of Jean-Claude Van Johnson. The comedy-action thriller will see Johnson's cover as the lead role in a reimagined action film version of Huckleberry Finn that lands him back in the midst of the danger he secretly always craves. It also brings him back in the orbit of Vanessa, his fellow operative and the love of his life that got away.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson marks Van Damme's first small-screen role following a long roster of action features including The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier, Knock Off, Double Team, The Quest, Sudden Death, Hard Target and Last Action Hero, among others, including voice roles in the Kung Fu Panda features. He is repped by Gersh and Hirsch Wallerstein.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson also marks Callaham's first TV project after penning features Zombieland 2 and Jackpot. He also created The Expendables and is credited with the idea behind Legendary's 2014 Godzilla reboot. He next has New Line's untitled Dwayne Johnson starrer and The Expendables 4, due in 2017. Callaham is repped by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone.
For Scott Free TV, meanwhile, the company is wrapping the final season of CBS' critical darling The Good Wife and reteaming with creators Robert and Michelle King for the network's straight-to-series summer drama BrainDead. Van Johnson marks the company's second project with Amazon and joins The Man in the High Castle. The company is repped by WME.