TV 'Battle' gets feature film redo
In one of the quirkiest TV series remake deals, Paramount Pictures has secured rights to “Battle of the Network Stars” and will use it as the catalyst for a star-studded comedy.Etan Cohen is writing the script, and Jimmy Miller will produce through Mosaic. Barry Frank, who created the show in 1978, will be exec producer. Pic will revolve around a disgraced network exec who must claw his way back to respectability by winning the contest. Concept was hatched by Cohen. Original show bowed in the late ’70s, with teams of series stars from ABC, NBC and CBS squaring off against one another in athletic events. Howard Cosell presided over the proceedings as soberly as if he were hosting the Olympics. Miller has strong relationships with comedy stars and is expected to use them. Frank, who’s vice chairman of Trans World Intl., the TV arm of sports agency IMG, will exploit his relationship with athletes. Goal is to make an “Ocean’s Eleven” for the comic and jock set. Frank, who hatched the show as a spinoff from his other creation, the athlete-studded “Superstars,” said he never imagined it would be turned into a movie until he got the call from Cohen’s ICM agent, Dan Rabinow. “I was mesmerized by their idea, which will make a comedy that will be great fun,” Frank said. “I just wish Howard Cosell was alive. Of all the shows he did, including ‘Monday Night Football,’ he told me this was his favorite. I can’t promise the athletes that IMG represents will appear in this. But the agency reps everyone from Tiger Woods to Derek Jeter and Maria Sharapova. A lot of them like doing cameos in movies, and I’ll certainly ask.” Paramount’s Alli Shearmur, Ed Goemans and Pam Abdy will supervise. Cohen cut his teeth in comedy working with Mike Judge on “King of the Hill” and “Beavis and Butt-head.” He transitioned to features by teaming with Judge to script “Idiocracy,” a comedy Judge directed that Fox will distribute early next year. Cohen also scripted “Tropic Thunder,” a comedy that Red Hour and DreamWorks are developing.