Showtime’s Stargate SG-1 is just one of many new series following this formula: Take a proven movie/TV property, make minor modifications, keep the title, and — voila! — you’ve got programming with the potential to make millions overseas, where buyers are desperate for franchises with recognizable names. ”It’s hard to get people to sample product they aren’t familiar with,” says Lisa Gregorian, a VP of international distribution at Warner Bros. Many U.S. studios are thus raiding their vaults for exploitable titles — as with the following syndicated shows being reborn for fall:
TEAM KNIGHT RIDER (September ‘97)
”It’s sort of a cross between Mission: Impossible and My Mother the Car,” says exec producer Rick Copp. It’s also Universal’s third attempt to rev up the KR franchise, after two TV films — one a potential pilot — stalled out. This time, talking Trans Am KITT is replaced by equally chatty trucks and motorcycles driven by crime-fighting mavericks.
POLICE ACADEMY: THE SERIES (September ‘97)
Now that PA’s big-screen potential has petered out (six movies and $300 million later), Warner Bros. is televising the morons in blue. ”I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel,” says exec producer Paul Maslansky of the untouched premise, which includes human sound-effects machine Michael Winslow reprising his film role.
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS – THE TV SHOW (September ‘97)
The retail success of the direct-to-video Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves proved this Disney cash cow is still growing. Rick Moranis look-alike Peter Scolari takes over as zany inventor Wayne Szalinski, but plots won’t be limited to shrinkage. ”We’re going to be using a lot of wacky gizmos in our show,” promises exec producer Leslie Belzberg.
FAME L.A. (September ‘97)
”It’s more intense and mature than the [original] series or movie,” says exec producer Richard Lewis. Out: NYC’s High School of Performing Arts. In: twentysomething actors/musicians/comics struggling to be discovered in Hollywood. Very nice, but of more interest to us: Whatever happened to Irene Cara?