CBS today reaffirmed its commitment to bringing MacGyver back to the small screen by picking up the MacGyver pilot to series. What the network picked up in essence is a new MacGyver series to be developed and written by Peter Lenkov, with two actors, Lucas Till as MacGyver and George Eads, attached.
CBS brass had been high from the get-go on rebooting the 1985 series about a resourceful and ingenious agent who improvises his way out of sticky situations using everyday items like rubber bands, chewing gum and a Swiss Army knife.
The project, from CBS TV Studios and Lionsgate TV, has undergone an evolution, with an original script by NCIS: LA executive producer R. Scott Gemmill, a pilot script greenlighted to pilot by Paul Downs Colaizzo, and a shooting script filmed as pilot by Colaizzo and Code Black executive producer Brett Mahoney, who was recruited to help on the pilot. Now both Colaizzo and Mahoney are leaving, with Hawaii Five-0 executive producer showrunner Peter Lenkov tasked with writing a new script.
Lenkov has a solid track record in rebooting classic series. CBS had unsuccessfully tried to remake Hawaii Five-0 with another writer before bringing in Lenkov, along with Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci, to come up with a new take. Lenkov wrote the teleplay for the trio’s Hawaii Five-0 pilot. It went to series, which Lenkov has been shepherding as showrunner ever since. The series, which has a rich off-network syndication deal and is a big international seller for CBS TV Studios, was recently renewed for a seventh season. Lenkov is slated to continue on Hawaii Five-0 while also spearheading MacGyver.
The general premise of the series remains the same as it was at the pilot stage: a reimagining of the original show, following a 20-something MacGyver as he creates a clandestine organization where he uses his knack for solving problems in unconventional ways to help prevent disasters from happening.
The host of characters around MacGyver is expected to change as, besides co-star Eads, the entire supporting cast is gone. The pilot originally had seven regular roles, with Addison Timlin, Joshua Boone, Michelle Krusiec among those departing.
There had been a few other changes behind the scenes on the project between the pilot the series pickup. The original’s executive producer Henry Winkler, who had been on board since the very beginning, was joined by the original series’ creator Lee David Zlotoff. James Wan, a driving force behind the reboot, remained an executive producer but pulled out from directing because of feature commitments. The pilot was helmed by David Von Ancken. It is unclear who will direct the new pilot but I hear it is unlikely to be Wan because of his busy feature schedule.
And the project, originally solely produced by CBS TV Studios, became a co-production with Lionsgate TV under a feature-TV deal between CBS and Lionsgate announced by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer on an earnings call a few days after the MacGyver pilot’s pickup by CBS.
“We’ve joined with our friends at CBS on a development deal to re-envision the MacGyver franchise in film and television, with CBS taking the lead on the TV show and Lionsgate taking the lead in the film,” Feltheimer said.
CBS has a strong track record in redeveloping concepts. In addition to Hawaii Five-0, one of this year’s highest testing pilots, CBS drama Pure Genius (aka Bunker Hill) was originally developed last season with a different writer and did not go beyond the script stage. A new take by Jason Katims this season was ordered to pilot and now to series. Fellow newly picked up CBS drama series Doubt reshot the pilot from last season. And CBS’ flagship comedy The Big Bang Theory and long-running procedural Numbers were retooled and shot a second pilot before going on the air.