EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that NBC has opted not to proceed with the proposed re-imagining of one of the most successful series in TV history – Murder, She Wrote — which had Oscar winner Octavia Spencer attached to star. The project, from writer Alexandra Cunningham and producer David Janollari, got a lot of attention when it came together in October, receiving a put pilot commitment from the network. A light, contemporary procedural, it was to follow a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel. Rebooting an iconic series is extremely difficult, as proved by a string of efforts, including NBC’s attempt at a contemporary Rockford Files from House creator David Shore and producer Steve Carell, which didn’t go to series. It took two attempts with different writers for a new Hawaii Five-0 to get on the air. The same happened with Prime Suspect — it was actually Cunningham’s take that got NBC brass’ approval and attracted Maria Bello for a well-received remake of the British drama — and with ABC’s Charlie’s Angels. Word is that NBC is not giving up on a Murder, She Wrote reboot. Because the original series was so beloved, I hear the network brass felt they could try approaching it in a different way, possibly with a new concept. The pass from NBC frees up Spencer, who is expected to be among the most sought-after actresses for pilots this season. Janollari has another NBC drama, Salvation, that has received a pilot order, and Cunningham has drama project Gone For Good in contention at the network.
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