New ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke and her team opted to roll the project to off-cycle development to do more work on the script with the same creative team, which includes Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, in his last sale to ABC before moving to Netflix for a rich overall deal, Black-ish writer/producer Yamara Taylor, ABC Studios; Sony Pictures TV, which has the rights to the title; and Sony-based Davis Entertainment (The Blacklist).
Bewitched was bought by Burke’s predecessor at ABC, Channing Dungey, with a big pilot production commitment which I hear involved a $2 million penalty. It explored casting before ultimately being rolled.
In Bewitched, written by Barris and Taylor, Samantha, a hardworking black single mom who happens to be a witch, marries Darren, a white mortal who happens to be a bit of a slacker. They struggle to navigate their differences as she discovers that even when a black girl is literally magic, she’s still not as powerful as a decently tall white man with a full head of hair in America.
Barris is executive producing via his Khalabo Ink Society banner alongside Taylor and Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
ABC, which aired the original Bewitched from 1964-1972, had been very interested in a reboot as the concept represents a twist on a family sitcom, which has been the network’s signature brand of comedy.
In 2014, ABC heavily pursued a Bewitched sequel, one of two previous attempts by Sony Pictures TV to revive the comedy series over the past decade. Beside the 2014 project, which in a bidding situation landed a pilot production commitment at NBC but did not go to series, another reboot was in development at CBS during the 2011-2012 season.
The network brass continue to be high on the premise, leading to the decision to keep Bewitched in active development.
Created by Sol Saks and executive produced by Harry Ackerman, Bewitched ran for eight seasons. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, a witch married to an ordinary mortal man, Darrin, and chronicles the way her powers and wicked family get in the way of her efforts to live a normal, magic-free life as a typical suburban housewife. Her daughter, Tabitha, got her short-lived spinoff series on ABC in 1977. Lisa Hartman played adult Tabitha who, along with her brother Adam, worked at a TV station.
Bewitched got a feature remake with Columbia Pictures’ 2005 film starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. While it didn’t fare well, the original series remains popular. It has enjoyed a long afterlife in syndication and around the world with local versions mounted in Russia, India, Argentina and Japan. The classic sitcom also has also been embraced by new technologies with a streaming deal at Hulu.