NBC to Resurrect ‘Murder, She Wrote’ with Octavia Spencer

octavia spencer

David Janollari and Alexandra Cunningham will exec produce

Turns out, you can’t kill “Murder, She Wrote.”

NBC is reviving the onetime Universal TV series that aired for years on CBS, placing Octavia Spencer in the starring role once held by Angela Lansbury and giving the project a put pilot committment.

David Janollari and Alexandra Cunningham (“Desperate Housewives”) will exec produce the drama, which will aim for a light, contemporary feel, according to NBC. Spencer will play the hospital administrator and amateur sleuth who self-publishes her first mystery novel, then becomes an active participant in true crime investigations.

NBC has had mixed success with revivals, recently canceling “Ironside” (with Blair Underwood in the Raymond Burr role) after four episodes.

Lansbury holds the Primetime Emmys record for most nominations for a lead actress  (12) and most without winning.

Deadline first reported the news.

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  1. I do not believe that any disrespect was intended towards Ms. Lansbury whatsoever in employing this remake idea. The bottom line is this: Unless the quality of the acting and of the writing is comparable to that of the original MURDER SHE WROTE, regardless of the show technically being a remake, the show will not succeed. In other words: The show will either sink or swim. So, I think everyone should just keep an open mind; and be willing to give the show a chance.

  2. Louie says:

    I am a huge Murder She Wrote fan, and to me this is an absolute sacrilege. I am appalled at this remake, and will not be watching. If a remake was necessary, why couldn’t NBC have picked an actress that would’ve been more appropriate?

  3. Jacqueline D. says:

    When will you dimwits in Hollywood learn that some shows should not be remade. This is one of them.

  4. cadavra says:

    Hey, here’s an idea. How about a new version of SANFORD AND SON…with white actors!

  5. Another problem with a “Murder She Wrote” remake is that the original show went out of its way to use veteran actors to star on the show. I really appreciated older actors getting a star shot on an entertaining show. I worry the new show will go out of its way to push recent talent in a not-too-subtle ageism bias. AWB

  6. Video Vision says:

    Remaking a television classic…What an inspired idea for guaranteed success. One need only look at the impressive track record of these retreads to understand the wisdom of such incandescent thinking on the part of network honchos through the decades — starting with CBS’ THE NEW PERRY MASON in the fall of 1973, and followed by such other, more recent spectacular reboots as:

    The Twilight Zone (UPN, 2002)

    Dragnet (ABC, 2003)

    Kojak (USA, 2005)

    The Bionic Woman (NBC, 2007)

    Knight Rider (NBC, 2008)

    Melrose Place (CW, 2009)

    Charlie’s Angels (ABC, 2011)

    Ironside (NBC, 2013)

    Yup, every one of them a ratings smash — thus assuring that the new Murder, She Wrote will be following in solid footsteps.

  7. Harry Mc says:

    Kerry Washington’s overwhelming success in “Scandal” should be more than sufficient proof to NBC that a new production starring an African-American female cannot only be successful but can also be creatively want people are looking for. This is no only the easy way our for Universal/NBC but far cheaper than to paying someone to create something new, different and fresh. Ms. Spencer deserves better and Universal and NBC should be ashamed of themselves.

  8. Rusty Samson says:

    Ok Holly wood is gone back to remakes the success rate is very little lets start with the Beverly Hillbillies and now they can’t understand the Ironside failure. I am not racist but the on slot of new remakes the now include Murder she wrote and Dwayne Johnson is set to play the demi-god Hercules and Fall Guy. Is the only thing they can do replace the character with an African American actors which to me is a disgrace to both the fans of the original programs as well for African Americans it does not do them justice. If you are looking to create new projects that have the main character that would be of African American then create stories for them i would rather see new shows with them acting as new characters from solving crime to super heroes than destroying treasured shows by remaking and making the twist of changing race just is insulting to everyone. There should be more programs that are designed for a wide range of cultures and this move will yet destroy another past show that has followers who would rather watch the old and trash the new. Take note of IronSide for example and come up with a new plan.

  9. Christina t. Miller says:

    No one can,or ever will replace the infamous,respected wonderful,Angela lanbury….EVER.dont even think about it! Every evening….I watch every rerun episode….Cabot cove rules! I love the series…don’t try to fix something that’s not broken ie: Ironside:really???

  10. Joanna says:

    This show will not make it. Murder She Wrote belongs to Angela Lansbury….sorry

  11. JOE S HILL says:

    When does this stupidity end? remakes are A BAD IDEA!! if nobody in this business today can’t figure that out,then they need to to see a doctor! “MURDER SHE WROTE” ran on CBS for 12 seasons,durring
    the timeline when Universal Television was still a major supplier to most of Network TV,and way before
    being called NBC Universal,this studio was still at its height! but since Universal is part of NBC,i can see
    why things have drasticly changed for these people! the recent cancelation of their “IRONSIDE” remake
    is a pretty good wake-up call for NBC to get its act together,,now,they think that rebooting the CBS series will give them an edge,,and that’s just total insanity! right about now,Angela Lansbury has to be
    having a great laugh,and the gesture of this Black Actress playing her “Jessica Fletcher” charecter,must
    be a real gut buster! no offense to Ms Spencer,but NO WAY!! i don’t know what kind of people that NBC
    Universal has working for them,,but i can see that these corporate droids have absolutely no kind of
    original ideas anymore,,and to remake “MURDER SHE WROTE” is both a futile gesture,as well as a total
    waste of time! the original series is a master hit,never to be made again-nor can Angela Lansbury ever
    be replaced or cloned! as for Universal Television,they need to come up with better things,because they
    are way past their years,when they did really great quality stuff-today,they are almost nothing! NBC needs to focus on better material,because remakes are not going to save them-especially from a CBS
    Primetime series,which already did its time,,move along NBC,you’re looking in the wrong area!

  12. Mcflyer says:

    The last time someone replaced Angela Lansbury it was Lucille Ball in “Mame”. I think many people recall how well that turned out. This is a bad idea and I wouldn’t be surprised if it never get on the air.

  13. Rosemary says:

    This is such a bad idea. If they are going to “update” the story, make her character youngr, change her profession and then make the character African American, why call it “Murder She Wrote”. I like Octavia Spencer and would like to see her as the lead in a new series, but not one that uses the “Murder She Wrote” brand.

  14. Katie says:

    BBC did great using Agatha Christie books for T.V. movies. I suggest you do some reading if you cannot use your own imagination – create a t.v. character based on some popular author’s protagonist.How about James Patterson’s Alex Cross or Stuart Wood’s Stone Barrington, or bring back the Women’s Murder Club. Leave Murder She, Wrote alone – that show belongs to the audience that made it popular and Angela Lansbury can hardly be replaced.

  15. Tymber says:

    What next from NBC, Beyonce & Jay Z in a remake of “I Love Lucy”?

  16. Mark Isenberg says:

    All of us who respected what William Link and associates created for Angela Lansbury and made an overwhelming success via syndication in Murder,She Wrote are skeptical why NBC would choose to do this adapted version. It has little chance of success because it was a singular triumph of casting,story writing and kind of like trying to do Andy Griffith’s Mayberry without Andy,just seems stupid and disrespectful. It will be worse than Manimal,Supertrain and that recent Broadway musical series so NBC should just rethink and not produce it.

  17. Keith says:

    When I first saw this I thought, and wrote, omg. Now I look at this and wonder: why is it that the entertainment business thinks that it’s the height of creativity to take a near certain failure and put an African American performer in an unoriginal, second hand role to ensure it’s success? Doesn’t a fine actress like Octavia Spencer deserve to succeed or not in a role/series that is her own to breathe life into? Wouldn’t an original project tailored to her unique talents be more refreshing and have a greater chance to be a winner be better than a vehicle that already is so beloved that casting anyone of any race or background would be greeted with rolling eyes and resentment? *This* is the best thing developed that we can hope to see this gifted actress in?

  18. Jason says:

    I think Octavia Spencer is a really good actress. I hate to see her place in something like this that is certain to suffer the same fate as Ironside. I wish she would decline this role and wait for something better to come along.

  19. Michael Coe says:

    I’m assuming that NBC made this decision based on the successful of their revival of “Ironsides”?

  20. Roxanne Santoro says:

    Bad Idea!!

  21. Chrisez says:

    Can you say “Ironside”?

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