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The Greatest American Hero live action film

GreatestAmericanHero.jpgIt's been rumour so far but it seems that Stephen J. Cannell, the man behind The Greatest American Hero, has just admitted that he is working on bringing the story back to life in a live action film.

That's over and above the comic book series that the star of the original television show, William Katt, is writing, the animated series that's coming, and the web and mobile series of shorts. However Cannell was generous enough to talk about the upcoming film.

"I'm actually pursuing it vigorously...I have a screenplay, I have a director, and we're moving forward with it. I have financing. I'm working to get distribution. So yeah, I'm trying to make it happen."

It's confirmed by Stephen J. Cannell himself, from the previous rumour I carried, that Stephen Herek, who directed such films as Mr. Holland's Opus, The Mighty Ducks, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Critters, is going to direct The Greatest American Hero film and Cannell goes on to say, through Newsarama and Catastrophic Comics
that Chris Matheson, writer on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and their Bogus Journey, and Ryan Rowe, writer of Charlies Angels, are writing the screenplay.

No confirmation though of the rumour of Ian Ziering from Beverly Hills 90210taking the lead role over or not, for that one we'll have to wait and see if the film can get made. Of the story line, which we've heard before would be slightly altered, Cannell said:

"It's Ralph Hinckley and Pam Davidson and Bill Maxwell...We rehung it slightly in the screenplay. And with most action movies, you'd try to get an MPAA rating on it of PG-13. But this movie script we've got is a PG. I want it to be something that kids can go and see. So it has a lot of humor in it; it's got a lot of effects. But basically, it's still Ralph with the suit destroying his life, and Maxwell's the Fed he can't control, and all those elements that were in the last story were rehung slightly. You don't want to do just a cookie-cutter reproduction of the pilot. You want to bring it to life for a new audience and a new generation."

We previously heard that there may be a regular enemy added to the storyline, something that William Katt confirmed when talking about the comic book series, he wanted a regular bad guy, someone more like a Lex Luthor.

Katt says that the comic series will be a bit of a test for the film, and in true marketing style, says that if the comic does well then we'll see the film for sure. Cannell has a lot of hope for the comic, and places it all in Katt's hands saying that he loves the character.

"He loves the character and he knows exactly what it is that we want to accomplish. I know he'll protect the characters and what is great about this series. So that's why, when he came to me and said that he wanted to bring this out as a comic book, I thought, man, what a perfect opportunity to do it. I feel good with Bill running the whole thing and keeping it the way we want it to be."

For any of you attending Comic-Con there's also a huge surprise, on the 24th of July the original cast will be there for a Q&A session to talk about the comic and the cartoon, that's William Katt, Robert Culp and Connie Sellecca, whom I had a huge crush on.

Newsarama tell us that this will take place at 12:30 - 13:30 in Room 7AB, and Cannell will introduce the panel with a videotaped introduction. Many thanks to melmac for pointing us in the direction of the story.

Now the very fact that they are coming together to promote the new lease of life speaks volumes for what they feel towards the original story and series, and all that is being said from Katt and Cannell suggests that this new live action film, should it happen, could well have as much laughter and love as the original.

I am really excited that this show is getting a new lease of life and that it's really going ahead, however there are some concerns about them reworking the story. Of course it has to be updated, but are they going to lose the magic of the original in the process? Especially by adding in a regular bad guy?

I'm also a little concerned about the sudden mass market approach - comics, web, mobile, and the live action film. Is this getting a little greedy or are they really trying to create The Greatest American Hero again as it was?

I hope the latter, although for me I'm not sure if they can reassemble that cast who had such great chemistry, particularly William Katt and Robert Culp...okay, and my crush, Connie Sellecca!

Believe it or not, they're making the film.



Excellent article Richard, but I wanted to add my two cents on a couple of issues:

In a way, the show had a regular "bad guy" in the form of the Soviet Union - spies, terrorists, black market (the selling of that item in "Here's Looking at You Kid"), etc. A one person bad guy; however, may or may not work, and it depends on the writing. Foils, such as Carlisle and to a point Knight, also work well.

Also, I don't think they're really being greedy inasmuch trying to get people of all ages interested in the show in different media.

A downside to "TGAH 2008" is that it does tout a much different outlook than the original series at least what's been shown. It continues off the spinoff attempt "GAHeroine" while SJC is continuing from what I'd assume either "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" or "Vanity, Says The Preacher" (pending on the person's POV as to which is the end of the series.

Some also might've visited the "TGAH 2008" site, thinking it's for the official production, and not the spinoff Collazo and company created. That can also lead to confusion as to which one SJC's doing.

By opening up various media online, it allows clarification and helps people get interested in the Comic/cartoon shorts/movie.

As far as the movie, you're right - it'll be hard to cast three people who have the same chemistry as Katt, Culp and Sellecca. I do think, however, it can be done and done well. And, if SJC keeps tabs on what the writers and director want to do, I think this could turn out great.

Thanks for that melmac.

I still think they are being greedy, they're outputting the idea on about every channel they can. I would have thought we'd have seen a little staggering on that front, or perhaps they plan to saturate the market and earn money and build hype for the film?

I honestly don't believe that they're going to attract a lot of extra people to the story through these channels, film yes, comic and mobile? Not a great deal in terms of cinema going audience.

Don't get me wrong though, I love the series and I would love to see a film version with a cast as chemistry filled as the original. I'm in and I want to see that film made.

I can understand releasing the comic as soon as possible. Katt just recently opened up Catastrophic Comics, and only has "Sparks" ready as his other comic right now ("Mythology Wars" is still being worked on). So, it's a bit of smart thinking (even if money is involved) to use the easiest to get outlet they have - Katt's comic book company, along with the second one they also snagged to do this.

The Web cartoon - I admit it's risky given the apparent trials and errors of "TGAH 2008" (whom still haven't released all of episode 1). That said, people are starting to look into the medium, and places such as YouTube are viewed by a younger contingent that can help reach it out some.

And - since there have been rumors about how they're going to do the movie - it's best to get people up to speed on the tweaked version of "GAH" before the movie does come out. The original fans will pick up the books and cartoon so they'll know the changes and won't gripe about how SJC "ruined" their favorite show (like a lot of TV shows turned into movies). The newcomers will be introduced to the world of "GAH" and might become interested in the series.


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