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Smokey and the Bandit rides again.
More than 40 years since the Burt Reynolds feature film launched a franchise, Universal Content Productions is reviving the property for television with a new series in development from some of the biggest names in comedy. A network is not yet attached.
David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Eastbound & Down) and frequent collaborator Brian Sides (Alaska: The Last Frontier) are re-teaming to co-write a new take on the 1977 Southern adventure pic. Fellow Green cohorts Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Brandon James of Rough House Pictures will also exec produce the potential series alongside Seth MacFarlane and Erica Huggins and their Fuzzy Door banner. Green will also direct the potential pilot.
The new take is inspired by the genre of ’70s and ’80s drive-in double features, with the potential series exploring the crossroads where humble realities meet those larger-than-life, all in a blast of tailpipe exhaust.
“Growing up in the South, Smokey and the Bandit was an iconic franchise for me. The legacy of these characters is a playground of swagger and sass that I’m excited to dig into,” said Green, who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and raised in Texas. Smokey and the Bandit marks his latest TV collaboration with Rough House, following HBO’s The Righteous Gemstones, Vice Principals and Eastbound & Down. The regular collaborators are also prepping Halloween Kills, which is slated for 2021.
For his part, Sides is a writer, producer and director who has penned screenplays with Green and Jeff Nichols. He has worked as a producer and director for docuseries including Alaska: The Last Frontier and splits time between North Carolina and Colorado.
Smokey and the Bandit is the latest in a rapidly growing slate of development that MacFarlane and Fuzzy Door have set up at UCP. The studio, a division of Universal Studio Group, inked MacFarlane to a massive nine-figure overall deal in January. Since then, Fuzzy Door has also set up The Winds of War (written and executive produced by MacFarlane and Seth Fisher); Skywatch (based on the viral short); and an untitled Little Rock Nine project (based on the best-selling memoir by Carlotta Walls LaNier). The company is also exec producing an animated take based on Norman Lear’s Good Times for Netflix. Other projects in the works include docuseries Micronations.
Said Huggins, who serves as president of Fuzzy Door: “When UCP mentioned Smokey and the Bandit we were immediately drawn to it. We knew we had to remain faithful to its original setting in the South, and find an authentic voice. David’s immediate interest and his unique perspective and love for the original made it possible. Smokey and the Bandit was a very cool and irreverent film at the time and we hope to achieve that same feeling in the show.”
Smokey and the Bandit is the latest title being revisited by UCP as the studio looks to mine its sprawling library. (Universal Pictures was the original studio behind Smokey and the Bandit.) Other updates in the works at UCP include Battlestar Galactica for Peacock and Chucky for Syfy, among others.
Produced on a budget of $4.3 million, Smokey and the Bandit became a monster hit for Universal. It ranks as the second-biggest domestic grossing film of 1977, behind only Star Wars. The success led to a pair of feature film sequels and a handful of made-for-TV spinoff movies. Reynolds led a cast that also included Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams and Mike Henry.
Green is repped by CAA, Cinetic Media and Pryor Cashman.
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