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‘MacGyver’ redux at WB

Par fashions youthful skein with original's producers

The man who can short-circuit a nuclear missile with a paper clip and stop an acid leak with a candy bar is back — but this time in the guise of “Young MacGyver.”

The WB has made a production commitment with Paramount Network Television to pick up a new version of the late 1980s-early 1990s hit “MacGyver.” But the new version of the series will focus on MacGyver’s nephew.

Richard Dean Anderson, who starred as MacGyver on the hit ABC series — which ran from Sept. 1985 to Aug. 1992 — is in talks to reprise his role as a guest star in the show’s pilot episode.

Sam Baum will write the project and be supervising producer, while Henry Winkler, Steve Downing and John Rich — all of whom produced the original show — will exec produce “Young MacGyver.”

“Young MacGyver” will follow the twentysomething hero as he leaves school and winds up joining the Phoenix Foundation — the good-guy org his uncle belonged to — on a lark. Once there, he discovers that he’s incredibly adept at stepping into Uncle MacGyver’s shoes.

“It will have a lot in terms of the same elements of the original series, but with a brand-new cast of characters and updated for present day,” said Carolyn Bernstein, senior VP of drama development at the WB. “Our MacGyver will be a little more irreverent than the original.”

The original “MacGyver” was the last show to pop a solid number for ABC in the pre-“Monday Night Football” timeslot. Indeed, Paramount first approached ABC about the “Young MacGyver” project, but the Alphabet web passed.

Bernstein called the decision to pick up “Young MacGyver” a “no-brainer.”

“We bought the show right in the room,” she said.

“Young MacGyver” comes on the heels of another franchise that the WB reinvented with a young slant — the teenage Superman of “Smallville.”

“We would never look a gift horse in the mouth, if given a familiar, adored franchise that came our way and we could age down to make it appealing to our audience,” Bernstein said.

WB and Paramount plan to start casting for the new “Young MacGyver” shortly.

“Paramount is not only very proud of the ‘MacGyver’ franchise and looking forward to reinventing it for 2003, but we are also thrilled to be in the drama business with the WB,” said Kathy Lingg, senior VP of drama development at Paramount Network TV.

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