'Charlie's Angels': 'Smallville' producers talk their reboot's creative approach, casting, and... a dog named Bosley?!
Image Credit: James Devaney/WireImage.comMiami is officially the hottest crime-fighting town on television. See: CSI: Miami, Dexter, and Burn Notice. Since you can’t have too many guardian angels keeping the peace in Miami (especially now that evil pro basketball racketeer LeBron James lives there, not to mention the occasional mischief making visit from those Kardashian sisters), TV’s sexiest and clearly most sinful setting will soon be home to the three more sentinels: Charlie’s Angels, a new television version of the classic 70s action drama slated for next year on ABC. Guiding the project will be the guys who successfully put young Clark Kent on the road to Superman in Smallville, the producing team of Al Gough and Miles Millar. Drew Barrymore—who produced and starred in two big screen translations—will serve as exec producer. Why set the show in the present-day Miami? In order to help the new show distinguish itself from its predecessors while remaining true to its core values. “Sun and surf are in the Charlie’s Angels DNA,” says Gough. “But we didn’t want to revisit Los Angeles, since that was done in both the original TV series and the movie series.”
ABC (the network home of the original Charlie’s Angels) and Sony (the studio owner of the franchise) have been keen to relaunch the Charlie’s Angels franchise, which premiered in 1976 with Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson in the leads. (Fawcett left after the first season and was replaced by Cheryl Ladd.) At one point, Lost exec producer Carlton Cuse had been recruited to help develop a new version of the show. Last fall, Josh Friedman, exec producer of Fox’s now-defunct Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, was tapped to write a pilot script, but it was never produced. Gough doesn’t want to give too many details away about the angle he and Millar are taking on Charlie’s Angels, but he would say this: “It won’t be campy or retro. The characters are real and emotionally grounded, but they still like to have fun, wear great clothes, solve crime and kick some serious ass. There are three new angels and one mysterious Charlie—and he’s still on the box, not skyping or teleconferencing.” Charlie’s lack of physical presence could be a source of mystery in the show, as Gough adds the following: “Yes, there is a reason why, and no we won’t tell you now.”
Why did the Smallville producers want to make Charlie’s Angels their next big TV project? “Because after tackling Superman, the pop culture third rail didn’t scare us anymore,” jokes Gough. “We were approached by Sony Television, and to be honest, we initially found the prospect very daunting. The question when approaching any reboot is ‘Why now?’ How do you make it relevant for today’s audiences? Miles and I believe we figured out a way to do that. We pitched it to our partners Leonard Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen, who have been the caretakers of this franchise, and they really liked it. More importantly, ABC got excited about it.” Cynics may roll their eyes at yet another Hollywood reboot of a classic entertainment brand (hello, Hawaii Five-O)-—and Gough gets it. Still, he hopes viewers will give the show a chance. “We realize that we have a big target on our backs,” he says, “but we hope to surprise people and bring a whole new generation to Charlie’s Angels.”
As for the actresses who play these new century TV Angels, there have been reports that producers are looking for a multi-ethnic trio. Gough will only say that the casting process has begun. “The timetable is NOW,” he says. “Seriously, we started this week with our casting director John Papsidera (The Dark Knight, Inception). We now have the arduous task of seeing hundreds of potential Angels.” Will a recognizable star voice intone the part of the mysteriously distant Charlie? Gough is keeping mum on that one. (Dynasty’s John Forsythe, who died earlier this year, did the honors in both the first TV series and the movies.) The team is also hunting for someone to play Charlie’s liason to his do-gooding damsels, Bosley, played in the first TV series by the late David Doyle and represented in the Drew Barrymore films by Bill Murray and Bernie Mac. Gough says that in a “huge departure from canon,” the new Bosley will be… a dog. “KIDDING,” says Gough. “Unless the test audiences hate the real Bosley we cast, and then we are totally going the pooch route.”
The fundamental appeal of Charlie’s Angels? It’s about three smart, capable women who not only save the day, but also have each other’s back. It’s about friendship. It’s about teamwork. And you only have to deal with your boss via speakerphone! I think that appeal is timeless.”