Original creators not contacted about TV deal

“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” director Edgar Wright, co-writer and star Simon Pegg and producer Nira Park didn’t exactly embrace the news that Fox TV is planning a U.S. remake of “Spaced,” the cult sitcom they made for Channel 4 back in the late ’90s.

In fact, they’re rather irked.

Fox has teamed with McG and “Will & Grace” alum Adam Barr to develop the U.S. version with Granada, the U.K. company that owns the format. But no one bothered to consult or even inform the original creators about the deal before they read about it last week.

As fans of the show howled their dismay in Internet chatrooms, Wright himself weighed in with an acerbic posting on his MySpace page. He scorned the suggestion that the original “Spaced” team, which also includes co-writer and co-star Jessica Stevenson, might collaborate in any way with the American version, as Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant did so effectively (and lucratively) on the redo of “The Office.”

“I don’t really want to get involved, but it infuriates me that they would a) never bother to get in touch but still b) splash me and Simon’s names all over the trade announcements and imply that we’re involved in the same way as Ricky and Steve were with the Office,” he blogged.

“It’s worth stressing that I will not be profiting from this reversion, nor do they have to get permission from me to make it,” he added.

“Spaced” is a surreal comedy about a man and woman who pretend to be a couple in order to get an apartment. But the situation is secondary to the pop culture references that saturate the show, and foreshadow the parodic elements of “Shaun of the Dead” (zombie movies) and “Hot Fuzz” (police/buddy actioners).

Park told Variety, “‘Spaced’ is such a personal show, not just to Edgar but especially to Simon and Jessica. It’s not just a format to be sold. The show is all about Simon and Jessica and a group of friends that made it. Of course you can remake it without them as just a flat-share sitcom, but it would be so different that it begs the question why they needed to buy the format rights.”

U.S. auds can make their own comparisons. The original “Spaced” is almost set to be released Stateside, after a long delay over the clearance of music rights.

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