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December 20, 2014

Working Title Films That Would (And Wouldn't) Work on the Small Screen

by Aimee Deeken, posted Apr 1st 2010 8:00AM
Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's DiaryThanks to the launch of Working Title Television (WTTV) last month, NBC Universal will glean a few TV-show ideas from movies created by its subsidiary Working Title Films. The UK production company is behind such Oscar crushes as 'Atonement,' Frost/Nixon' and 'A Serious Man,' and fan-faves 'Nanny McPhee,' 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Pride & Prejudice.'

NBC Universal (which could use some fresh programming following the prime-time Leno debacle) will distribute WTTV content, starting with the comedy 'Love Bites' -- a "romantic anthology" reminiscent of Working Title Films' 'Love Actually' -- starring Jordana Spiro ('My Boys') and 'Ugly Betty's' Becki Newton. Execs in the joint venture announced last month they will also adapt the 'Bridget Jones' franchise for the small screen.

Having looked at the rest of Working Title's 100-plus film repertoire, we've got some thoughts of our own on three movies that would make good episodic programming -- and two that wouldn't.Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's DiaryThanks to the launch of Working Title Television (WTTV) last month, NBC Universal will glean a few TV-show ideas from movies created by its subsidiary Working Title Films. The UK production company is behind such Oscar crushes as 'Atonement,' Frost/Nixon' and 'A Serious Man,' and fan-faves 'Nanny McPhee,' 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' and 'Pride & Prejudice.'

NBC Universal (which could use some fresh programming following the prime-time Leno debacle) will distribute WTTV content, starting with the comedy 'Love Bites' -- a "romantic anthology" reminiscent of Working Title Films' 'Love Actually' -- starring Jordana Spiro ('My Boys') and 'Ugly Betty's' Becki Newton. Execs in the joint venture announced last month they will also adapt the 'Bridget Jones' franchise for the small screen.

Having looked at the rest of Working Title's 100-plus film repertoire, we've got some thoughts of our own on three movies that would make good episodic programming -- and two that wouldn't.

The Big Lebowski'The Big Lebowski'
Of the many Coen brothers' films that Working Title has backed ('Hudsucker Proxy,' 'Fargo,' 'Burn After Reading'), the one most entertaining for the small screen would have to be 'The Big Lebowski.' We'd all like to see how the Dude has been abiding all this time. It could be set in a bowling alley, with him dispensing more slacker wisdom for his ragtag bowling team of underachievers and Dudeist followers the world over. Of course, they'd need something to occasionally draw them away from the lanes. (Not another kidnapping?) The bigger difficulty would be filling Jeff Bridges' shoes.

Shaun of the Dead'Shaun of the Dead'
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the team behind 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz,' are soon to unveil the last of their "blood and ice cream trilogy" with 'The World's End.' If they aren't too busy with that, they could help WTTV develop 'Shaun' into a slasher comedy series that picks up right where it left off. Shaun and girlfriend Liz would be urbanites living in a time when zombies -- including best friend Ed -- are now part of everyday life. It'd be 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' meets 'True Blood' meets 'Pushing Daisies.'

State of Play'State of Play'
To be fair, this has already been a TV series -- in the UK in 2003, that is. The film's setting relocated to Washington, D.C. A rework for US television could stay in the Capitol and follow the inner workings of the press, politicians and intelligence agencies. Sex scandals, corporate corruption, white-collar crime and international terrorism would surely ensue. Think 'The Wire' meets 'The West Wing,' with a little '24' thrown in.

Billy Elliot'Billy Elliot'
The low-budget sleeper hit of 2000 successfully resurfaced on the UK stage in 2005, and it won 10 Tonys its first year on Broadway. But both film and musical work in large part because he's up against some hefty obstacles, not least being surrounded by a town full of angry, striking coal miners. Take that away and put him in the Royal Ballet School, watching him pursue dance, and what do you get? A boring premise. Besides, the film ended with a flash-forward of a post-ballet school Billy having made it as a professional dancer. We get it.

O Brother Where Art Thou'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'
It's a unique, fun film, but narratives with this much singing just won't work. Remember 'Viva Laughlin'? The mystery/musical/dramedy was widely panned and canceled after two episodes. Sure, 'Brother' has a better storyline and dialogue -- and the singing actually fits in with the plot -- but it's too soon. The 'Viva' wound has yet to heal.

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