Despite having the most buzz of any new pilot this season, the David E. Kelley reboot of Wonder Woman failed to win a regular spot on NBC's Fall schedule. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this news comes after blah buzz and a dismal network screening.
The Wonder pilot, produced by Warner Bros. TV, was a reinvention of the iconic DC comic in which Wonder Woman (as played by Adrianne Palicki) was portrayed as a vigilante crime-fighter in Los Angeles, where her alter ego, Diana Prince, was a successful corporate executive trying to balance all the elements of her extraordinary life. Joining Palicki in the now-failed pilot (which was directed by Jeff Reiner, of NBC's The Event) was Elizabeth Hurley, Tracie Thoms and Cary Elwes.
Thoms, who would have played Wonder/Prince's best friend Etta, lamented on Twitter, saying, "I am very sad that NBC passed on Wonder Woman. But that just goes to show you: There is no such thing as a "sure thing" in this biz."
Truth be told, however, I'm not sad at all about NBC's decision. In fact, I view it as quite wise – and here's why:
When I first learned of the potential reboot not only of NBC's Wonder Woman, but ABC's redo of Charlie's Angels, I was just plain shocked, mostly because of the poor casting choices.
I was reminded of what actor Richard Anderson once relayed to me. Richard, of course, is best known for his iconic TV performance in the 1970s as Oscar Goldman on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (he penned the foreword to my BIONIC BOOK, which may be ordered directly via firstname.lastname@example.org). Richard also had a recurring role as Lt. Steve Drumm on Raymond Burr's classic Perry Mason TV series. Of working with the legendary Burr, Richard said the Mason actor believed very strongly that the key to the success of any television show (or film and play, for that matter) was correct casting.
"If you don't have the right actor in the right role," Burr told Anderson, "then you won't have a hit."
Sad to say, this was the case a few years back when Michelle Ryan was cast as the new Jaime Sommers in NBC's 2007 remake of ABC's The Bionic Woman (the original edition of which NBC had aired in the show's final third season).
Granted, there were many other issues with that reconstructed Bionic Woman (and we'll save the detailed commentary about that for some future post), but the truth of the matter was this: Michelle Ryan simply did not have the same warmth or natural beauty that original Bionic actress Lindsay Wagner brought to the initial Sommers series.
Such was the case with the updated Wonder Woman.
Palicki is very pretty, but she was missing the statuesque, Amazonian and Lynda-Carter-quality beauty (or hips!) required to play Wonder Woman - and those in power in NBC ultimately saw that (not to mention that there was a massive outcry from the public once new images of Palicki surfaced online, showcasing her in a drab and controversial new Wonder-less costume).
So, again, NBC ultimately wised-up, and opted not to move forward with the revised Wonder series.
Unfortunately, ABC is still flying high with the new Angels, which will star Rachel Taylor, Minka Kelly, and Annie Ilonzeh - all of whom will be lead by the new Charlie, to be portrayed off-screen, in voice only, by Robert Wagner (It Takes A Thief, Switch, Hart to Hart).
With the exception of the very smart choice to have Wagner "play" Charlie (or at least be heard as the Angels leader), the remaining aforementioned actresses are simply miscast.
As with Palicki and Wonder Woman, Taylor, Kelly and Ilonzeh as the new Angels are attractive choices, but in no way do they compare or come anywhere near the classic, iconic, sophisticated, and regal grace and beauty of original Angels Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.
The Charlie's Angels feature films of a few years back also made this same mistake: Drew Barrymore? Cameron Diaz? Lucy Liu?
Once more, each actress is easy on the eyes. But true Angel material?
Not a chance.
When casting those Angels feature films, where were the elegant likes of Ashley Judd, Catherine Zeta-Jones or Michelle Pfeiffer, the latter of whom, as fate would have it, is married to Wonder Woman re-booter David E. Kelly (who clearly knows a thing or two about true beauty, and should have known better when casting the new Diana Prince)?
It's such a shame that Kelly, and all of those behind the small-screen scenes of the new Wonder Woman and Charlie's Angels just did not think, and are clearly clueless as to how true star power and charisma is defined. (The Angels TV re-make is headed by producer Leonard Goldberg and actress Drew Barrymore, who produced and starred in the Angels feature films.)
Then again, maybe Kelly's contemporary take on Diana Prince (with that already-controversial new costume, warm-up pants and all) could have made it if NBC had given the green light to the pilot? And maybe the re-coiffed Angels will fly high in the ratings when it debuts in the Fall on ABC?
Then again, maybe the modern Wonder Woman and her invisible plane, along with the new-dos of Charlie's Angels, will be grounded for life?
At least on television.
Herbie J Pilato is a producer/director/writer, and author of a number of media tie-in books (including Bewitched Forever and The Kung Fu Book Of Caine, Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On: TV's First And best Family Show of Challenge, The Bionic Book, and NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book. He's worked for A&E, TLC, Syfy, and Bravo's hit five-part TV series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters. Herbie J is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization that helps to close the gap between popular culture and education. For more information, please see www.ClassicTVPS.blogspot.com. To contact Herbie J, or to order any of his books, email: ClassicTVPS@gmail.com.
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