Bad news, Mr. Whaley: Frank Whaley is out as the lead of FX’s upcoming comedy series “Bad News, Mr. Swanson” as the cabler revamps the pilot.
FX made a 13-episode commitment to “Swanson” earlier this summer, but did so with the understanding that a number of changes would be made. FX has hired feature and TV helmer Dean Parisot (“GalaxyQuest”) to direct the new pilot, utilizing the original script.
A replacement for Whaley has not yet been cast.
FX entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly said the decision to go back and rework the pilot, which will serve as the show’s first episode, was based on the desire to make “tonal” adjustments to the show.
“There were a few things tonally about the pilot we wanted to retool, and we thought we could go further with the idea, so we’re taking another crack,” Reilly said. “Frank’s a very gifted actor (but) where we wanted to go just didn’t play entirely into his talents.”
The skein does tread on unusual territory: It’s a comedy about death, following a man who decides to live life to its fullest after he learns he’s dying of cancer. The story’s hook, Reilly said, is taking control of your life.
“Swanson is a guy whose life was passing him by,” he said.
Gavin Polone is exec producer of “Mr. Swanson,” along with Daryl Rowland and Lisa DeBenedectis, through Columbia TriStar TV Distribution. Michael Patrick Jann directed the first pilot.
Skein is expected to preem early next year at 10 p.m. as part of the basic cable net’s strategy to launch original series in the slot following off-network series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Ally McBeal” and “The Practice.”
“The whole idea of doing originals is to attract compelling talent to the network, make noise and brand the network,” Reilly said, adding that he considers getting Parisot to direct the “Swanson” pilot a “coup.” “This script has been like that from the beginning. It’s something we just didn’t want to let go of.”