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Varsity Blues is one of the iconic high school movies of the late 1990s. Rewatching nowadays is a blast from the past, and not just because it stars James Van Der Beek from back in his Dawson's Creek days. Well, Varsity Blues could make a comeback, but it wouldn't take viewers back to party like it's 1999. A Varsity Blues TV show is in development again, this time at upcoming technology platform Quibi.
The modern take on Varsity Blues is being written by Tripper Clancy, known for penning 2019's Stuber and 2018's Hot Dog. Anne Fletcher of 27 Dresses and Netflix's Dumplin' is on board as director. Executive producing will be Mike Tollin and John Gatins. Tollin is a particularly interesting choice, as he has been a producer on other sports-based productions in the past, including the original Varsity Blues, Coach Carter, and Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. Will that experience make him a particular asset to Varsity Blues, if it scores a series order?
Mike Tollin commented on bringing the 1999 film premise to the small screen 20 years later, saying this:
For all those who cheered Mox's refrain, ‘I don't want your life,’ as well as all those who never heard of the West Canaan Coyotes, we're thrilled to bring Varsity Blues to Quibi and into the 21st century!
Mike Tollin's comments indicate that a Varsity Blues TV show on Quibi would appeal to fans of the movie and newcomers who may not have been watching high school movies (or existed yet) back in 1999. Sports-based projects can be hit-or-miss with audiences. After all, Friday Night Lights was a hit with critics everywhere, but it never scored particularly high ratings on NBC. Then again, Quibi is very much not going to be NBC or any of the other big 4 networks.
Quibi is a mobile-first media technology entertainment platform designed for on-the-go mobile viewing. It's set to debut in the U.S. on April 6, 2020, with approximately $1 billion being invested on content and a monthly cost of $4.99. Videos are expected to run between 7 and 10 minutes, which raises the question: will all of the original series run for such short installments, or will at least some of them be more along the lines of traditional episodic television runtimes?
Some other TV shows are in the works at Quibi as well at this point. Steven Spielberg, who recently pulled out of a hit CBS TV show, is creating a horror TV show, and that's not all. A project from Lost co-creator Jeffrey Lieber is in development, with Don Cheadle -- who was just announced as part of a sports project himself -- starring. Throw in Varsity Blues, and it seems Quibi is interested in a variety of genres in its slate.
No details are available about whether or not the original cast of Varsity Blues could be involved, making the potential TV show more of a sequel or revival than a remake. James Van Der Beek weighed in on a film sequel a couple of years ago, and he said then that he and others were "actively talking about that world and modernizing it." That sounds similar to what Quibi is going for, but doesn't mean Van Der Beek is on board.
This is actually not the first time a Varsity Blues TV show has been in the works. Back in 2016, news broke that a Varsity Blues series could head to CMT, but nothing ultimately came of that. Will Quibi be the platform that finally makes it happen?