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ABC to give ‘Cupid’ another shot

Rob Thomas to resurrect Jeremy Piven series

ABC has been struck by Cupid’s arrow again.

Net has pacted with scribe Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”) to develop a new version of “Cupid,” the short-lived but well-regarded Jeremy Piven starrer about a man who thinks he’s been sent to earth by Zeus to help out romantically challenged souls. Project is one of two scripts Thomas has in the works via a just-inked one-year development deal with ABC Studios.

Sony Pictures Television, which produced the original skein, has given its blessing to the remake.

“Cupid” lasted only 15 episodes during the 1998-99 season, but it attracted a cult aud and helped establish series creator-exec producer Thomas as a TV player. Scribe said he didn’t intentionally decide to resurrect his first big series.

“For the last couple years, I’ve been talking to ABC about how to do an anthological romantic comedy a la ‘Cupid’ or ‘Love Boat,’ ” Thomas said. “We kept beating around ideas and kept coming back to ‘Cupid’ as the best of the group. So they said to me, ‘Why not go back and do ‘Cupid’ again?”

Thomas said he was “shocked” by the request — in a good way.

“I’m getting a chance to do what writers never get the chance to do, which is to go back and try” to improve a work, he added.

Scribe said that while he’ll write a completely new pilot, “I’m not going to reinvent it. What they’re buying is the show.”

There will be changes, of course.

For one thing, Piven, busy on “Entourage,” won’t be reprising his role. Thomas also wants to come up with a main title sequence that captures the show’s conceit so he doesn’t have to explain it every week.

New “Cupid” will also relocate from Chicago to Los Angeles, allowing for more high-profile stunt casting.

“The plan is to try to hook some really good guest stars every week,” Thomas said.

Original skein also starred Paula Marshall as a court-appointed shrink trying to help Piven’s character work through his Cupid issues. That doctor character will also return, though Thomas still isn’t revealing the answer to one of the skein’s enduring mysteries: Whether Piven’s character really is Cupid or is just a bit nuts.

“If we make it into syndication, this time I promise that I’ll answer the question,” Thomas said.

This isn’t the first time a network’s revived a short-lived show. A few years ago, CBS brought back “Grapevine,” a summer sitcom many believed died too soon. Second go-round didn’t produce a hit, either.

Thomas thinks the stars could be in “Cupid’s” favor this time.

“The zeitgeist is better for the show now, and ABC is a much better network for it now,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of shows that could lead into it.”

As for his other development, Thomas is adapting the New Zealand format “Outrageous Fortune,” a drama about a family of blue-collar criminals, for ABC.

South Pacific Pictures produced the original. Michael Larkin and Michael Goldstein, along with Bruce Cervi and John Lansing (“Walker, Texas Ranger”), brought the project to ABC Studios and will serve as co-exec producers.

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