Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2006/ 7 Teves, 5766

Greg Crosby

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No-brainer movie concepts | With the depressing news that movies have had one of the worst financial years in a couple of decades, it's no wonder that studio execs are nervous. And you know what happens when studio execs get nervous? They start looking for sure-fire, no risk hits. Of course there is no such animal as a sure-fire no risk hit in the movie business, so what do they do? — the powers that be start to green light the next best thing, the good old reliable "three 'r's" — remakes, rehashes, and retellings.

That means that in the coming year or so we can all look forward to plenty of prequels, sequels, and big budget feature films based on old successful television shows. If it worked once, the thinking goes; it should work again and again and again and again …

I have absolutely no insider information on new film releases, but I can guess that there's a pretty good chance that we will see follow ups to "The Chronicles of Narnia," "The Wedding Crashers," "King Kong," "Madagascar," "Chicken Little," and "The 40 Year Old Virgin." I would also bet that another "Shrek," Pirates of the Caribbean," and Harry Potter" are in the works, or maybe even wrapped up by now.

"King Kong" was a hit in 1933. It spawned a sequel; "Son of Kong," which spawned a copycat, "Mighty Joe Young" in 1949. Then came a 1976 remake of King Kong," then there was a remake of "Mighty Joe Young" in 1998. The 2005 remake of "King Kong" will undoubtedly produce a remake of the sequel, "Son of Kong" for next year. How appropriate that the term "ape" has come to mean "to mimic or imitate slavishly, often with an absurd result." (American Heritage Dictionary)

Sequels and prequels are the bread and butter of the movie business. As long as audiences will continue to pay for a story, Hollywood will continue to remake it. Sylvester Stallone is in pre-production on Rambo IV for this year and a new Rocky is being filmed for a 2007 release. Hey, yo! Ya do whot ya can do, y'know whatamean?

I'm pretty sure we're going to see a lot more movie versions of hit TV shows in the coming year or two. For example, I heard recently that a movie version of "Miami Vice" is scheduled for this year. Whether or not there will be a "Bewitched 2" or a "Dukes of Hazard 2" or another "Charlie's Angels" is anybody's guess. I do, however, have some other guesses of my own:

It wouldn't surprise me to see a film version of "Mork and Mindy" — Robin Williams might very well be amenable to it since big meaty movie roles have been a bit hard to come by for him lately.

Here's a real high concept project (as they say in show biz). Do the movie version of "Love Boat" but have them hit an iceberg. That way you get all the hokey love crap of the popular TV show, plus all the high-level, heart-stopping special effects from the "Titanic." It can't miss!

Since they did "Cheaper By the Dozen 2" and "Yours, Mine, and Ours," last year, they might adapt that old Dick Van Patten show, "Eight is Enough" with a few minor changes — instead of the warm and fuzzy family show that it was, just use the name and throw the concept away. Make "Eight is Enough" about the way the Democrats are stonewalling the confirmation of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court.

If Robin Williams decides to do "Mork" on the big screen, then there's no reason why Pierce Brosnan shouldn't do "Remington Steele" as a feature film or Tom Selleck shouldn't reprise his role as "Magnum P.I. As a matter of fact, bringing back the original casts to do big movie versions of their hit shows is a guaranteed money maker (think "Star Trek"). Can you imagine how huge "Seinfeld — The Movie" could be? Or a big budget "Sopranos" on the big screen?

Think how audiences would flock to see a combo of two of their favorite TV shows combined in one major motion picture; like "Friends Having Sex in the City." Or maybe even a three show combo like, "L.A. Law & Order Blues."

If they are going to remake old television shows into movies, why not just go crazy with it? Do "Sing Along With Mitch — the Movie." Make "The Red Skelton Show" starring Conan O'Brien. They made "The Honeymooners" with an all black cast; make "The Jeffersons" with an all white cast. Make "I Love Lucy" with an all Korean cast.

Cash in on the theme of "Brokeback Mountain" and do homosexual versions of favorite cowboy TV shows. "Gunsmoke" could be "Gaysmoke." "Bonanza" could be "Boynanza." "The Wild Wild West" could be …well, "The Wild Wild West." They might consider working the homosexual thing into other television genres, like cop shows. They could do "In Drag-net." "Hawaii HIV-Positive." "Ellery Queen" would take on a whole new meaning.

It will be interesting to actually keep count of all the regurgitated ideas that emerge as major films in the coming months. Mathematics was never my strong suit in school — I hope I'm up to it.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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