Fox TV has committed to a put pilot (a pilot that the network has agreed, at a minimum, to air either as a special or series) for a potential series that will be “loosely-based” on “I Spy,” the secret-agent buddy adventure series that ran for 3 seasons on NBC from 1965 to 1968, and which starred Bill Cosby as Alexander “Scotty” Scott and Robert Culp as Kelly Robinson as US intelligence agents working undercover.
The Fox pilot hails from writer David Shore (“House”), director McG (“Charlie’s Angels”), producer John Davis’ Davis Entertainment (“The Blacklist”), and Sony Pictures TV. Unlike the original series, this one will team up a professional spy and an enterprising civilian, as they chase domestic and international villains.
The 1965 “I Spy” was groundbreaking for its casting of a black actor (Cosby) in a lead role on an American TV series of its nature. Cosby’s race was never a subject in any of episodes, nor was his character in any way subservient to Culp’s. They were, for the most part, presented on screen as equals. And while Culp’s playboy character was the more experienced agent, Cosby’s strait-laced Rhodes Scholar Scotty was fluent in many languages, and really was the brains of the team. It’s worth noting that Cosby’s character wasn’t originally written as a black man. But the story goes that producers of the series caught one of his stand-up comedy performances on a talk-show, and decided to take a chance on hiring him to play opposite Culp.
It’s not said whether this Fox revamp of the original will be packaged in the same way – a black man and a white man working together; or maybe even possibly 2 women; or a woman and a man teaming up. Per Deadline, it will likely not be called “I Spy,” promising a new take on the series concept, citing as a possible reason the fact that Cosby being closely identified with the original, may prove to be detrimental from a marketing standpoint, given recent events (specifically the numerous sexual assault charges he faces).
You’ll recall the 2002 movie remake of the series, also titled “I Spy,” which starred Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson. The film was both a commercial and critical failure. Directed by Betty Thomas (she’d previously worked with Murphy 4 years prior, on “Dr. Dolittle 2”), the script was touched by many hands – Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley, Jay Scherick and David Ronn – which is often a sign of a likely troubled project.
No ETA on the Fox TV revamp.
Watch a trailer for the original series below: