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NBC rewinds ‘Rockford’

Network taps Shore for new take on '70s show

Jim Rockford is looking for a comeback.

NBC, Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell’s Carousel Television have tapped “House” creator-exec producer David Shore to shepherd a redo of the classic 1974-80 gumshoe drama that starred James Garner and put Stephen J. Cannell on the map as a writer-producer.

Garner’s Emmy-winning portrayal of the ex-con private eye who lived in a trailer in Malibu (and usually worked as hard to get his clients to pay up as he did on solving cases) turned Jim Rockford into one of the most indelible characters of the smallscreen. Shore said as a fan of the show himself, he’s well aware of how high the bar is set for the remake.

“It’s one of the shows that made me want to become a writer,” Shore said. “I had no interest in adapting any old stuff, but this was the one exception.”

Shore’s just starting to think about an approach to bring “The Rockford Files” into the present day, but he intends to stick with the basic foundation of a private eye in L.A. just trying to make a living.

“What makes ‘Rockford’ timeless is that he’s vulnerable, he’s flawed. He’s used to hustling and getting hustled,” Shore said. “Sometimes he’s a hero and sometimes he runs away.”

The idea for a “Rockford” revival came from Carousel, which inquired about the rights to the Universal TV property after Carousel cut a production pact with Universal Media Studios in January. Laura Lancaster, NBC/UMS’ exec veep of drama, knew that Shore was a big “Rockford” buff, and the match was easily made.

“The minute I heard this I said, ‘Let’s get it on for midseason’ … but we’re going to take our time and get it right,” said Angela Bromstad, prexy of primetime entertainment for NBC Entertainment and UMS. “We know that David has the right sensibility as a writer to take on this kind of big character.”

The original “Rockford” was co-created by Cannell and Roy Huggins, a prolific and influential TV scribe who created “Maverick,” the offbeat Western that made Garner a star in the late ’50s, and “The Fugitive,” among other shows.

“Rockford,” which earned the Emmy for drama series in 1978, was a training ground for a number of future biz heavyweights, including scribes David Chase, Juanita Bartlett, Chas. Floyd Johnson and thesps Dennis Dugan and Tom Selleck. Show’s strong supporting cast included Noah Beery Jr., Stuart Margolin, Joe Santos and Gretchen Corbett.

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