EXCLUSIVE: A re-imagining of Steven J. Cannell’s 1981 cult classic The Greatest American Hero is flying back to development with a new creative team, a big new commitment and a big twist.
ABC has given a put pilot commitment to the half-hour single-camera project. In it, the unlikely (super)hero at the center — Ralph Hinkley (played by William Katt) in the original series — is Meera, an Indian-American woman. The Greatest American Hero comes from Fresh Off the Boat writer-producer Rachna Fruchbom and Nahnatchka Khan’s Fierce Baby. 20th Century Fox TV, where Fierce Baby is based and Fruchbom recently signed an overall deal, will co-produce with ABC Studios.
Written by Fruchbom, the re-imagining of Greatest American Hero centers on Meera, a 30-year-old Indian-American woman from Cleveland whose talents include tequila drinking, karaoke and not much else. Then some aliens entrust her with a super suit to protect the planet, and the world has never been in more unreliable hands.
Fruchbom executive produces with Fierce Baby’s Khan and Mandy Summers, as well as Cannell’s daughter, television director Tawnia McKiernan.
This marks The Greatest American Hero‘s return to ABC, where the original sci-fi dramedy series, created by TV legend Cannell and starring Katt and Robert Culp, aired for three seasons. Here is a montage to the show’s theme song, “Believe It or Not,” which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 100 in 1981:
20th TV, which owns rights to the original series, previously attempted to reboot The Greatest American Hero in 2015 and 2016 with different writers. Both incarnations, produced by Phil Lord & Chris Miller and McKiernan, were set up at Fox with put pilot and pilot production commitment, respectively.
Fruchbom is a writer-producer on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, created/executive produced by Khan, and previously worked on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. She is repped by UTA and Gang Tyre.
This is the third put pilot commitment for Fierce Baby this season as Khan and Summers are ramping up the company’s development with other writers. It joins put pilot commitments at Fox for an ensemble romantic comedy penned by Billy Finnegan, and comedy Revival, from Sally Bradford McKenna.
McKiernan is repped by APA and Elana Barry and Brad Mendelsohn at Circle of Confusion. Khan and Fierce Baby are repped by WME.