ABC closing in on ‘Charlie’s Angels’

Network close to deal on pilot order

ABC is close to giving a pilot order to a modern version of the classic 1970s TV actioner “Charlie’s Angels.”

Josh Friedman, who recently adapted the “Terminator” franchise for his Fox series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” is onboard to write and exec produce the new “Angels.”

Also involved are original “Charlie’s Angels” producer Leonard Goldberg, who launched the series with Aaron Spelling in 1976, as well as Drew Barrymore, who starred in and produced the 2000 film version and its sequel. Sony Pictures TV is the studio.

Insiders said that ABC Entertainment Group topper Steve McPherson is particularly high on this project.

Networks of late have found that it’s frequently a challenge to take on iconic franchises — and several recent reboots, such as this fall’s “Melrose Place,” have fallen short.

But ABC is riding high this fall with its adaptation of another such property, “V,” which bowed to boffo numbers. And insiders note that most of those other properties had laid dormant for some time, while “Charlie’s Angeles” was just recently a strong movie franchise. Plus, there’s the part where “Charlie’s Angels” will make some noise by finding three new ass-kicking female stars.

Sony is also busy adapting another 1970s Spelling (and Goldberg-produced) property, “Fantasy Island” — but as a reality show, along with Mark Burnett. No U.S. network is attached as of yet to that project, which was announced last month at the Mipcom TV confab.

The original “Charlie’s Angels” ran from 1976-81 and was back in the news this summer following the death of original star Farrah Fawcett.

Spelling attempted a revival in 1988, sealing a deal to produce a version called “Angels 88” for Fox. That show never got off the ground, but it eventually led to Spelling’s deal to produce the original “Beverly Hills 90210” (now also enjoying a revival, via the CW).

The franchise then lay dormant until 2000, when the McG-helmed “Charlie’s Angels” feature, starring Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz, was a box office hit. Movie spawned a second edition, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”

It also led to an earlier attempt at a TV series revival, in 2004. That version was written for ABC (again, through Sony) by a pre-“Lost” Carlton Cuse and John Wirth and given a script-plus-penalty order but ultimately didn’t go to pilot.

This time around, a pilot is expected to be greenlit. Friedman, Goldberg and Barrymore will exec produce with Nancy Juvonen.

Friedman’s other credits include co-writing the features “War of the Worlds” and “The Black Dahlia.”

Beyond “Angels” and “Fantasy Island,” Goldberg was an exec producer on “Starsky and Hutch,” “Hart to Hart” and “Family.”

The new “Charlie’s Angels” is expected to be geared toward a new generation while paying homage to the past.

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