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Paramount’s endeavors on television have not been without problems over the past five decades, but the company cannot be faulted for a lack of effort. The most recent push forward came last year, when Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman named Amy Powell the president of the newly re-formed Paramount Television, and Powell just announced a slew of new production heads to guide the company into creating series for broadcast TV and cable, as well as online venues. A select few of their upcoming projects were revealed, including a series inspired by Peter Weir’s prescient comedic drama The Truman Show.
(throws water onto your unconscious faces)
Wake up! It’s true. Paramount wants to refurbish the film that turned Jim Carrey from a rubber-faced cartoon into a legitimate dramatic force, though it’s not exactly clear how they plan on doing it. The Truman Show was released in 1998 and was a signal flare to the industry that a reality television implosion was just around the corner, as predominantly spearheaded by audiences’ fascination with the non-realism of MTV’s The Real World. 16 years later, we have seen the sub-genre go everywhere from teenage mothers to a Christian duck call company to every form of dating competition imaginable. (That really is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’m sure there’s a show about an iceberg’s tip in development right now.)
The Truman Show was centered on a man whose entire life was documented on reality TV, though he didn't know he was constantly being filmed and that people all over the world had been watching him since birth. As the film goes on, he begins to notice strange things that cause him to become suspicious of the stage surroundings. So how would a Truman Show TV series work? Will the main character experience the same realizations that Truman Burbank did in the film on a broader scope? Or will the developers presumably raise the stakes to ridiculous heights in order to differentiate between them? Either way, I’m interested. Or maybe I only think I’m interested because the producers inside my head are telling me that's how I should feel about it.
Other Paramount projects mentioned by TheWrap are a series inspired by Terminator, which already has a series in development, so we’ll just assume time-traveling cyborgs will be involved with someone other than Sarah Connor, who was already the focus of a Fox show in 2008-2009. Outside of their film library, Paramount is planning on creating a limited series based on A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the multi-talented aviator Charles Lindbergh, as well as a series adapting Caleb Carr’s 1994 crime novel The Alienist. The latter has been in one kind of development or another ever since the company bought the book’s rights back in 1993 with feature plans.
For her head of production, Powell hired Jason Fisher, who’d previously overseen production for AMC on acclaimed shows such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad. For head of comedy development, Powell brought in South Park producer Jennifer Howell (who voices Bebe Stevens on the show) and she awarded drama development to Hesher executive producer Annette Savitch, who is also producing the adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s mash-up novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
This sounds like a great move for Paramount, though I’m not sure The Truman Show's boxed-in universe is the place to go. Unless this is some Boyhood-like concept where they’ve been recording some man or woman for years without him or her knowing it. That I’d creep-watch in a heartbeat. Also, give me that Beverly Hills Cop show, so I can hear that theme on a weekly basis.