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TV Land is boldly going where it has not gone before — into hourlong originals.
The Viacom-owned cable network has handed out a series order to its Heathers reboot and also given an early season-two renewal to Melissa McCarthy-produced comedy Nobodies. TV Land president of development Keith Cox made the announcement Friday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.
The 10-episode Heathers, based on the 1988 cult classic, becomes TV Land’s first hourlong original series. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Heathers was picked up to pilot and filmed as a single-camera comedy, but the final cut came in at more than 40 minutes with a considerably darker tone. TV Land loved it and opted to turn it into its first hourlong. Creatively, the 10-episode order was the request of writer Jason Micallef, who asked for 10 episodes, rather than the 13 half-hours originally planned.
Set to debut in the fall, the show is described as a “pitch-black” comedic anthology. Insiders say the anthology component will be similar to FX’s Fargo and feature a new group of “Heathers” — no matter the setting. The decision to shift Heathers to an hourlong format comes as TV Land was mulling a move into drama last year, having bid for Marti Noxon’s Dietland (which ultimately went to AMC). “We haven’t gone out into the community and said we need to be in the drama business because everyone is in it. It goes back to that we’re chasers, so we’re not going to sit here and hear a drama pitch. We’re going to be strategic: What is our voice in drama? Then we’ll go out and get it,” Cox told THR during an October Executive Suite interview.
The original 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. TV Land’s 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 Micallef.
“Our take on Heathers is a cinematic, surprising and twisted comedy that gives a wonderful nod to the film while also creating something entirely its own,” Cox said of the project. “We’re really passionate about this show and the satirical storytelling its provocative characters allow.”
Heathers, produced by Lakeshore Entertainment’s Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi, took a long time to be adapted for television. The TV Land version marks the third time Heathers has been rebooted for the small screen. Bravo teamed with Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) 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 arrives as TV Land has undergone a rebranding in the past few years, focusing 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, Lopez, Teachers and the forthcoming series Throwing Shade and Nobodies. The pickup for Heathers was the last of the cabler’s current crop of pilots. It will be joined on the schedule by fellow freshman series American Woman, starring Alicia Silverstone. (The channel passed on its First Wives Club reboot.)
Nobodies, meanwhile, was picked up to series in June and doesn’t premiere until March 29. The single-camera project, produced by McCarthy and husband-director Ben Falcone, is inspired by the real lives of writers Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras (Adult Swim’s Mike Tyson Mysteries), who watched as their friends from Los Angeles-based improv and sketch-comedy troupe The Groundlings went on to star in blockbuster comedies and win Oscars while they toiled away in Hollywood. The trio will write, executive produce and star in the comedy as characters who try desperately to land one of their famous friends for a feature script that they have developed, so that they, too, can rise to fame in Hollywood. MadTV‘s Michael McDonald serves as showrunner. From McCarthy and Falcone’s On the Day banner, Nobodies boasts a pilot directed by Falcone, who also guest-stars. Jason Bateman (Arrested Development), Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live), Jim Rash (Community) and Nat Faxon (Married) also guest-star in the pilot. JAX Media’s Tony Hernandez also will executive produce for TV Land, expanding the partnership that currently includes Younger and The Jim Gaffigan Show, which recently ended its run.
Season two of Nobodies will consist of 12 episodes and will air in 2018.
“Picking up Nobodies for season two was a no-brainer when all these extremely talented people are behind it,” said Cox. “It’s a bold, quirky, hilarious look at what happens when you will do or say anything to succeed in Hollywood.”
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