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Most of the time, TV remakes have trouble justifying their own existence, either by rehashing plots without making changes, or by making too many changes and retaining little familiarity. It’s still unclear how things will shake out for NBC’s upcoming Uncle Buck pilot, but the network is striving for diversity by focusing on a black family this time around. It’s hard to tell whether director John Hughes is spinning or cheering in his grave.
News of Uncle Buck’s cultural changes came by way of Showbiz 411, who noted that casting notices were going out for an African American Buck Russell aged from “late 20s to early 30s.” Here’s the character description.
He’s a wild and free-wheeling force of nature who has managed to lose every job and every girlfriend he’s ever had, but who still flies through life by the seat of his pants, never knowing what tomorrow will bring.
That’s a pretty generic set of metaphors right there, but that’s all that can be expected. Buck Russell is a loser in many respects, but one with his own unique personality powers and attributes. There’s got to be a reason he keeps getting jobs and girlfriends, right? And it’s an entirely different thing to think about a young, fit black actor taking a part that was once played by John Candy. Yes, I realize it doesn’t call for the actors to be “fit,” but come on.
The hunt for a new Buck Russell is a lot more interesting now, and that’s partly because there are far fewer black actors for NBC to consider for their lead roles, unfortunately. This is a part meant for Anthony Anderson ten years ago, but he’s already on a successful series and time travel still doesn’t work. One could easily see the pilot’s script finding its way to Donald Glover’s hands, although I doubt he would bite, and it’s also worth noting that Damon Wayans Jr. dropped out of the next season of New Girl. Of course, NBC might just hire a newcomer or, more likely, “the guy who played that one guy on Criminal Minds last season.”
Uncle Buck, which will again center on a man taking care of his straight-laced brother’s three kids, is hardly the only small screen remake getting a pilot recently, with Rush Hour, Limitless and more in various stages of casting and pre-production. It’s not even the only remake that’s changing the race of its characters, as iconic producer Norman Lear recently announced he’d be remaking his hit sitcom One Day at a Time with a Latino family at the center. Hits like Jane the Virgin, Empire and How to Get Away with Murder seem to be having a positive effect on the kinds of shows networks are willing to take on.
The Uncle Buck pilot is obviously in the casting stages, which means it will probably be going into production soon.