Angela Lansbury: New ‘Murder She Wrote’ is ‘a Mistake’

Angela Lansbury West End Blithe Spirit
Don Arnold/WireImage

Angela Lansbury says “it’s a mistake” for NBC to call a new series “Murder, She Wrote.”

The network recently announced plans to reboot the show with Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as its star. Spencer acknowledged her new TV project on Twitter last month.

Lansbury, who will accept an honorary Academy Award later this week, said “Murder, She Wrote” was her “greatest doorway to the world.”

“I suddenly became a worldwide-known character as Jessica Fletcher and really built an enormous audience, which I have to this day,” the 88-year-old said in a weekend telephone interview from her New York home. “That was the thing that really made me a star in the minds of everybody.”

Lansbury had three Oscar nominations and four Tony Awards when she joined the CBS drama, which aired from 1984 to 1996, earning her 12 consecutive Emmy nominations and international acclaim.

She’s sensitive about the show’s reinvention.

“I think it’s a mistake to call it ‘Murder, She Wrote,’” Lansbury said, “because ‘Murder, She Wrote’ will always be about a Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person …

“So I’m sorry that they have to use the title ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ even though they have access to it and it’s their right.”

Lansbury said she admires Spencer’s work.

“I saw her in ‘The Help’ and thought she was absolutely wonderful, a lovely actress,” Lansbury said. “So I wish her well, but I wish it wasn’t in ‘Murder, She Wrote.’”

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  1. Harry Mc says:

    I love Octavia Spencer and wish that NBC would provide her an opportunity to create something new and fresh that truly suits her talents. A reboot of “Murder She Wrote” will automatically alienate the very audience they are trying to reach. “Murder She Wrote” is designed for an older demographic – people who remember the original will find it hard to accept another actress (any actress) in the role. Why NBC would try this is itself questionable since they don’t want an older audience. A perfect example is the cancellation of “Harry’s Law” w/Kathy Bates – numbers (for NBC) were respectable but the demographic wasn’t what NBC wanted. As much as I enjoy Ms. Spencer’s work I know that this is not a show I am interested in watching. The last time Hollywood tried to replace Ms. Lansbury we ended up with Lucille Ball (an actress loved by millions) sadly miscast in the title role in the movie “Mame” receiving possibly the worst reviews of her career (until ABC’s “Life With Lucy”) through no fault of her own.

  2. BBMom says:

    Wow! I hate to agree with the doom and gloom attitude….but…..
    I was excited at first assuming it would be in similar settings with a similar actress to Angela Lansbury or slightly younger. Really do not think it will be a go now. I guess “don’t mess with nostalgia” unless you can carry on the theme and atmosphere..

    If you like the concept but want to change as many aspects as you are planning, please give it another name and it might work. I do agree many are eager for more mystery series.

    Good Luck!!

  3. Str8Shooter says:

    It will fail EXACTLY like Ironside did. I am sorry, it is STUPID to cast a black actor in a role originated by an iconic white one. Would it make sense to re-do Good Times with a white family? How about The Jeffersons starring Glenn Close and Robin Wiliams?

    Just dumb.

    • Frank W says:

      I think you got the ICONIC part right, but the rest you’re off base. I wasn’t all that excited about Blair Underwood in the part because he’s too good looking, not because he’s black. Ironside was a grumpy cat before the internet and hated to be trapped in the chair but wouldn’t let it stop him being a cop. I knew Blair could bring the intensity to the role, but I just didn’t see him in it. Ironside the name was also a nod to Raymond Burr’s girth. It was a great idea to try and I really thought it could work, but I guess it didn’t.

      Whatever they finally call the MSW reboot, I know Octavia Spencer will nail it.

    • jerzygirl45 says:

      That’s why you’re against it? Seriously? I’m black, I loved “Murder, She Wrote” but it shouldn’t be redone because it’s not necessary. Ms. Lansbury is right, utilize the concept. Just don’t call it “Murder, She Wrote”

    • OneMan says:

      Im sorry, but your comment is stupid and makes a false equivalence.

      I’m a black man whose mother watched “Murder, She Wrote” regularly. It is a great show, and I am a fan of Lansbury (though that’s more for her work in the theatre than anything else). Her remarks are right on the money: the problem with this remake isn’t that they’ve recast the role with a black woman, as you so moronically suggest–it’s that the show really isn’t “Murder, She Wrote”.

      “Ironside” failed because it just wasn’t good. Not because they cast Blair Underwood in a role originated by a white man.

      “The Jeffersons” or “Good Times” wouldn’t work with a white cast because on those shows the blackness of the characters was integral to the given circumstances of their existence, and was at the heart of the experiences of many of the characters.

      White people erroneously make arguments like this all the time, because they do not understand how someone’s entire life experience can be altered simply because of skin color.

  4. Joey Arone says:

    Besides, they’re already redoing “Murder, She Wrote”, it’s called “Castle”.

    • Frank W says:

      Castle is not Murder She Wrote, other than Castle being an authour. it’s more of a Thin Man and countless other films of the 30s and 40s, like Glenda Farrell’s Torchy Blane series where a reporter/writer becomes an amateur sleuth with their police paramour.

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