NETWORKS ENTER A DANGER zone when they decide to remake classic TV series.
CBS failed in its 2000 attempt to revive the 1960s ABC hit “The Fugitive,” and earlier this year NBC declined to pick up the pilot for the high-profile remake of its ’70s favorite “The Rockford Files,” to take just two examples.
Whether such shows alienate viewers still loyal to earlier versions, or simply fail to resonate for a new generation, they present a real challenge to networks trying to re-monetize older brands.
No one is more aware of this than the producers of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0,” which debuted Monday. The original series set a high benchmark, running for 12 seasons following its 1968 launch. “It was an iconic crime series. You don’t want to mess it up,” said executive producer Peter Lenkov. “People are going to come to this with their arms folded and say, ‘Entertain me.’ ”
And entertain is exactly what Lenkov and team try to do with the new series, adding the contemporary conceits of explosions and procedural techniques to the original crime drama’s suspense and exotic scenery.
As in the earlier series, Hawaii itself remains a major character. The lure of its locations was always part of the game plan, said Lenkov. “You can’t duplicate this place anywhere else.”
Lenkov used to watch the original series as a kid at his father’s side and he jumped at the opportunity to pitch an idea and work with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci on the revival. Once they got started, things moved fast. Last week, when Lenkov spoke to Daily Variety, lensing on episode six was well under way.
“Hawaii Five-0” came to the Aloha State just after the long-running “Lost” shut down production and was able to take advantage of the well trained crew base the ABC show left behind (not to mention picking up “Lost” cast member Daniel Dae Kim). “A lot of really talented people were ready to work as soon as we got there,” Lenkov said.
Lenkov wouldn’t confirm the pilot’s reported $8 million price tag but pointed out that its cost is amortized over subsequent episodes. “The pilot cost a lot of money, but building from scratch is the most expensive part,” he said, “Now we have sets we can continually go back to.”
Also helping boost production values: cooperation from the military. “It goes a long way because they have a lot bigger toys than we can afford,” Lenkov said.
The show’s only major disappointment, per Lenkov, was that CBS wasn’t able to secure the state-operated Hawaii Film Studio near the Diamond Head crater, where much of “Lost” was shot. ABC kept its hold on that facility, which is now being used for “Off the Map,” the new medical drama from the “Grey’s Anatomy” team.
Undaunted, the “Hawaii Five-0” producers converted a Honolulu warehouse into a soundstage and an old post office into the headquarters of the series’ elite crime-fighting task force.
“Ultimately somebody will inherit our new stages,” said Lenkov, but he hopes that moment won’t come anytime soon. CBS’ commitment now extends to 12 episodes following the pilot. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
Bookings & Signings
Paradigm d.p. bookings: Mike Thomas on David R. Ellis’ “Shark Night 3D,” Alexander Gruszynski on Tina Gordon Chism’s “We the Peeples,” Kenneth Zunder on Michael Pavone’s “Blood Brothers,” Michael Fimognari on Chris Rossi’s “Lives of the Saints” and Phil Parmet on Ernie Barbarash’s “Weapon”; production designers Beth Mickle on Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” and Franco Carbone on William Friedkin’s “Killer Joe”; and costume designers Deborah Everton on Cartoon Network pilot “Krog” and Bob Blackman on NBC’s “The Cape.”
Paradigm has booked editors Julian Clarke on Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s “The Thing,” Mary Jo Markey on J.J. Abrams’ “Darlings,” Peck Prior on Paul Feig’s “Bridesmaids,” Craig Alpert on Eric Brevig’s “Yogi Bear,” Joe Hobeck on TNT’S “Franklin & Bash,” Deborah Moran on CBS’ “Chaos,” Anne McCabe on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” Chris Willingham on ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7,” Raul Davalos on Syfy pilot “Three Inches” and Henk Van Eeghen on Lifetime’s “Sunday at Tiffany’s.”