Here's some truly disappointing news to start off the week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Barry Levinson-directed revival of The Saint, which was set to star the perfectly-cast James Purefoy as Simon Templar, "didn't go forward." Apparently Purefoy is instead opting to star in a different show with a very similar premise, The Philanthropist. (It really could have been an ITC title in the late Sixties; I'm surprised they didn't think of it!) Says the trade, "Philanthropist centers on a renegade billionaire (Purefoy) who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter the risks or costs." That's pretty much what Simon Templar does, the only real difference being that his wealth is ill-gained. The Reporter ends its report on The Philanthropist with this brief statement on The Saint: "Earlier this year, CAA-repped Purefoy was attached to The Saint, an independently produced two-hour backdoor pilot with Levinson on board to direct, but the project didn't go forward."
"Didn't go forward?" So what does that mean? Is the project dead? Will it still go forward in the future, but with another star? All LeslieCharteris.com (the premier site for Saintly information) can add at this point is that shooting on the pilot has been delayed until "at least August" because of a possible actors' strike. (Such a strike seems very unlikely at this point.)
Muddying the waters further is how incestuous this whole Saint/Purefoy/Philanthropist triangle really is. The original producers on The Philanthropist were Levinson and Tom Fontana, both of whom were also on The Saint! They've now been replaced, however, by Battlestar Gallactica and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys producer David Eick. So were Levinson and Fontana really developing such similar projects simultaneously? Or did The Saint somehow morph into The Philanthropist? That seems an unlikely scenario, given that the trade states The Philanthropist got a 13-episode order from NBC nearly a year ago. More likely, the shows aren't really as similar as they sound in loglines.
Whatever the tangled web behind the scenes, this story saddens me. As I was just saying earlier this month, I was really looking forward to this newest incarnation of The Saint--and primarily because of Purefoy's involvement. I hope that the matter is not yet said and done, and that we still might somehow see a James Purefoy Saint series sooner or later.
James Purefoy circles NBC series Network execs had been courting 'Rome' star By Nellie Andreeva July 21, 2008, 01:00 AM ET
NBC is closing in on its "Philanthropist," with Brit James Purefoy in negotiations to play the lead in the midseason drama series.
"Philanthropist," from UMS, centers on a renegade billionaire (Purefoy) who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter the risks or costs.
NBC brass had courted Purefoy for some time, including flying the "Rome" star from the U.K. to Los Angeles for a meeting.
The casting of the lead comes nearly a year after NBC gave the project a 13-episode series order and three months after the network put it on its 2008-09 schedule.
It also follows the recent change at the helm of "Philanthropist," with David Eick taking over following the departure of original writer/executive producer Tom Fontana and exec producer Barry Levinson.
Peter Horton is set to direct the pilot for the series, which is slated to premiere in the Monday 10 p.m. slot in midseason.
Earlier this year, Purefoy, repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, was attached to "The Saint," an independently produced two-hour backdoor pilot with Levinson on board to direct, but the project didn't go forward.
Filming in Detroit on the $10 million television pilot “The Saint” has been delayed until at least August because of a possible actors strike, the show’s producer said.
“We’re just now awaiting some word on the disposition of the Screen Actors Guild negotiations and then will proceed most likely in mid or late August,” Bill Macdonald, senior producer at Saint Productions Inc. said in an e-mail to Crain’s Detroit Business.
The two-hour television pilot, a remake of a 1960s British mystery-spy thriller television series, was supposed to film in Detroit in May and June.
Talks between Hollywood studios and television networks and the 120,000-member Screen Actors Guild broke off Monday, hours before the union’s deal expired with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The dispute centers on new media and DVD payments for actors. No strike vote has been taken.
The pilot, originally meant for the TNT network, is being independently produced and shopped around.
Filming was earmarked for Detroit to take advantage of the state’s new 42 percent rebate, which pays back 42 cents on every dollar spent in the state on approved productions.
Darryn Welch, CEO and producer of Berlin-based production and financing company Instinctive Film, which is also involved in “The Saint” pilot, declined comment. A call to Nehst Studios in New York City, another production and film finance company, was not returned.
Grace & Wild HD Studios in Farmington Hills was bidding against Hollywood on the film processing work for pilot. Such work typically costs $120,000 to $150,000, Ginny Hart, vice president of sales at Grace & Wild, previously told Crain’s. The studio has the state’s only film lab.
Hart couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. It’s unclear if the studio won the film processing job.
“James Bond” actor Roger Moore played the lead character, Simon Templar, in the 1960s British television series and is among the producers involved in the remake. A 1997 feature film of the same name starred Val Kilmer.
The new proposed series is set to star British actor James Purefoy, probably best known for his role as Mark Antony in HBO’s “Rome.”
Macdonald and writer Jorge Zamacona aligned with Moore and his son, Geoffrey, in 2004 to form Templar Entertainment Group, aimed at getting a new “Saint” series on television, according to the Web site and blog www.saint.org, which is devoted to the show, movies and novels by “Saint” creator Leslie Charteris.