EXCLUSIVE: A famous 1980s title is eyeing a comeback. ABC has nabbed Magnum, a sequel to the classic series Magnum P.I. that starred Tom Selleck, with a script commitment plus substantial penalty. The project, from Leverage creator John Rogers and Eva Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, will keep the fun, action-packed style of the original as it follows Magnum’s daughter, Lily “Tommy” Magnum, who returns to Hawaii to take up the mantle of her father’s PI firm. She and her tribe of friends mix tropical beaches with the seedy underbelly of international crime and modern espionage, even as she tries to unravel the mystery of the blown spy operation that ended her career in Navy Intelligence.
Rogers will write the script and executive produce through his Kung Fu Monkey banner alongside UnbeliEVAble’s Longoria and Ben Spector and Kung Fu Monkey’s Jennifer Court. Universal TV, which owns rights to the original series and where UnbeliEVAble is based, is the studio.
Longoria and Spector, whose UnbeliEVAble is under an overall deal at Universal TV, looked at the studio’s catalog for titles that could be suited for reboot. They identified Magnum P.I. as particularly viable and relevant, and then Rogers unlocked a way in with Thomas Magnum’s daughter that he took custody of in the show’s finale. While the trio felt that rebooting the series with another Thomas Magnum would be daunting, focusing on his daughter was an organic way to update the franchise.
“We knew no one could replace the iconic role of Thomas Magnum, so John decided to make the reboot a sequel and continue the adventure of a Magnum — his daughter, who was established in the original series,” Longoria and Spector told Deadline.
Magnum P.I., created by Donald P. Bellisario and Glen A. Larson, premiered in 1980 and ran on CBS for eight seasons with Selleck in his signature role as a Hawaiian P.I. Lily, who appeared in four episodes, had been raised by her mom, Magnum’s once presumed dead wife Michele, and her second husband. Following their death, the little girl was reunited with her birth father who at the end of the series vowed to provide a stable home for her.
In addition to TNT’s long-running drama Leverage, Rogers created the network’s current hit The Librarians, heading into its third season, and NBC’s The Player. His feature credits include the first Transformers movie, American Outlaws and The Core.
This is UnbeliEVAble Entertainment’s second network sale this development season, following NBC comedy Big Of Me, written by Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich, on which UnbeliEVAble is collaborating with Will Packer Productions. Longoria and Spector recently executive produced the NBC comedy series Telenovela, in which Longoria also starred, and Lifetime’s Devious Maids. Under UnbeliEVAble’s first-look deal with Universal Pictures, the duo recently sold Iungerich’s feature pitch My Daughter’s Quinceañera.
Rogers is repped by CAA, Thruline, and attorney Kim Jaime of Jackoway Tyerman. UnbeliEVAble Entertainment is repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Other famous titles that have been rebooted via the daughter of an iconic character include Van Helsing, which Syfy premieres tomorrow. It centers on Vanessa “Van” Helsing, the daughter of vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing.