EXCLUSIVE: Stephen J. Cannell’s 1980s series Wiseguy is getting a contemporary reboot at NBC. The peacock network has bought a new take on the crime drama, which will be written by Alex Cary (Homeland). The project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, has received a script commitment with penalty.
A re-imagening of the original series, which Cannell co-created with Frank Lupo, Wiseguy centers on a disgraced former cop who, while serving time in prison, cuts a deal to work undercover for time off his sentence. The show begins as he’s being released — now he’ll put the connections he made behind bars to good use in the field as he helps the police take down a criminal organization. Cary, who is under an overall deal at 20th TV, will executive produce with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. The original series, which ran on CBS for 4 seasons from 1987 to 1990, starred Ken Wahl as Vincent “Vinnie” Terranova, an undercover agent of the Organized Crime Bureau, a fictional division of the FBI, whose cover was working as syndicate enforcer after a stint in the New Jersey penitentiary. The show, which had a lead change in the final season with Steven Bauer replacing Wahl and featured a standout performances by Kevin Spacey and Jerry Lewis, was an early pioneer in the introduction of serialized elements to a crime procedural, with each season consisting of several arcs, and in the use of runaway production for cutting costs. WME-repped Cary, born and raised in London, spent 7 years in the British Military until moving to Los Angeles after the Gulf War to pursue a writing career. His first staffing job was on FX’s The Riches, followed by gigs on In Plain Sight and Lie To Me. He currently serves as a co-executive producer on the Showtime/20th TV drama series Homeland. This broadcast buying season has been light on reboots of classic series. Wiseguy joins CBS’ Bewitched remake and the CW’s contemporary version of the 1980s drama Beauty And The Beast.