News Briefs: NBC Is Rebooting Murder, She Wrote, With Octavia Spencer in the Lead Role

By Kaitlin Thomas

Oct 25, 2013


Someone send an ambulance to NBC stat because that network is really, really struggling to hold on. In a desperate last-ditch effort, the network is resurrecting Murder, She Wrote, which starred Angela Lansbury and ran on CBS from 1984 to 1996. Octavia Spencer (The Help) will play the lead role, and David Janollari and Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives) will executive-produce. [Variety]


... I'm really into what The CW is putting out these days, and I'm weirdly excited about the network's newest puchase. Titled Players, it's set in 1930s Hollywood and follows a Midwestern gal who moves to Los Angeles to avenge her sister's murder at the hands of a studio executive. But wait, there's more! Once in L.A., she is "swept up" by the Hollywood star-making machine, gets involved with a closeted movie star, AND becomes a pawn in a scheme with the mob. It's like four shows in one, and it sounds insane. Where do I sign up? [Deadline]

... When The Cleveland Show wasn't renewed we knew it was only a matter of time before the its characters returned to Family Guy (that'll show Fox!). In the episode "He's Bla-ack," set to air this spring, Cleveland and his family move back to Quahog, where they'll face plenty of "you couldn't hack it out on your own" jokes. [EW]

... TNT has ordered eight one-hour episodes of a new reality series starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Tentatively titled Wake Up Call, the show will follow Johnson as he makes 4am wake up calls to people facing enormous challenges in their lives. Personally, I find waking up at 4am to be an enormous challenge, which is why I usually roll out of bed sometime around 8:45am and smash my head on the keyboard for a few hours. [TNT via press release]

... Several cast members from Arrested Development will appear on Inside the Actors Studio on Thursday, November 7. Tune in for serious questions with Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Jeffrey Tambor, Alia Shawkat, Jessica Walter, and creator Mitch Hurwitz. [Bravo via press release]

... Matt Smith and David Tennant apparently hatched a plan during the filming of Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary Special that would have allowed both of them to continue being the Doctor for several more episodes (five episodes each and then three together). Showrunner Steven Moffat said no because he hates happiness, and now the internet has an entirely new reason to hate him. [Radio Times]

... And as long as I'm already talking about things that air on BBC America, the network will premiere the new series Atlantis after the encore presentation of "The Day of the Doctor" on November 23. The series, from the creators of Merlin and Misfits, follows the adventures of Jack Donnelly's Jason as he searches for his father. His trip takes him on an unexpected adventure to the fabled city of Atlantis, where he encounters legendary heroes and dangerous creatures. The series premieres at 9pm, and Game of Thrones' Mark Addy stars as an overweight, overly confident Hercules, so be sure to set your DVRs. [BBC America via press release]

... Glee won't officially end until spring 2015 (sigh), but Naya Rivera is pitching a Glee spin-off following her character Santana Lopez. Would you watch it? [E! Online]


... Kathryn Hahn has reunited with Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott for the third installment of The Greatest Even in Television History. We still don't know what series they're taking on this time, but we do know it's a sitcom, and not a one-hour drama. The next installment drops November 7 at midnight on Adult Swim. Leave your guesses in the comments! [Vulture]

... Man, The Crazy Ones really loves its guest stars. This time the show has booked supermodel Adriana Lima for a bit part. She'll play herself in the December 5 episode. [E! Online]

... Fringe alum Kirk Acevedo is guest-starring as the brother of Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez) on Blue Bloods. The character is being described as a longtime criminal, and will appear in the November 22 episode. [Zap2It]

... Without a Trace alum Marianne Jean-Baptiste has landed a recurring role on NBC's midseason drama Believe, from Alfonso Cuaron and J.J. Abrams. The series centers on a young woman named Bo with a special gift, and the relationship that develops with her father Tate after he escapes from prison and is tasked with protecting her from the evil people who want to steal her power. Jean-Baptiste will play CIA Deputy Director Brandice Comstock, who's aligned with the show's villain, played by Kyle MacLachlan. Ummmmm, okay. [TV Guide]


... Jon Hamm shaves three times a day. [NY Mag]

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  • LeahLefler Oct 31, 2013

    Steven Moffat has been one of my favorite people in TV for over a decade way before Who but how could he keep away more of my Matt and David? The 1st and 3rd best Doctors! #2 is Pertwee- check him out! Anyway, he did poorly on season 7 (except the Snowmen) and I hope he turns it around because I am only giving him the benefit of the doubt with this new Doctor.

  • MarlboroMagpi Oct 26, 2013

    TNT has ordered eight one-hour episodes of a new reality series starring Dwayne "The Rock"

    I guess that means THE hero will NOT have season 2. It was a really good reality series. I liked it so much I think I will watched this one too. I am not really a fan of THE Rock for his movies but I am for him as a reality host !

  • JT_Kirk Oct 26, 2013

    FAWWWWWWWK YOU STEVEN MOFFAT! Yeah, it's not the same ol' thing, but should that really be what Doctor Who is about, the status quo? Granted, you'd not know what with your awful Hollywoodization ruining the originality and cleverness of the 11th Doctor's run, but still, c'mon, that would have been awesome on a plate with bangers and mash!

  • JT_Kirk Oct 26, 2013

    Because Murder She Wrote is a brand you can really say "hey, I would like to watch a modern version of that" to without smirking and laughing at the idea of old people suffering the same episode over and over, great plan NBC. Also Octavia Spencer really is the one we all want to watch solve crimes. Home fucking run to the peacock network once again. It seems to me that NBC isn't being murdered, it's committing suicide... very slowly and publicly.

    Players sounds suspiciously like the Philip Marlowe novel "The Little Sister", minus Philip Marlowe. How ironic would it be if Hollywood were to take a story lambasting Hollywood and gut it, living up to the notion of Hollywood being awful? How ironic would it be if they utterly failed to understand that?

    The link to Jon Hamm shaving 3 times a day is blank, doesn't work. Also, eww.

  • JT_Kirk Oct 26, 2013

    PS - "Murder, She Tweeted"? "Murder, She Instagrammed"? Oh, I know, "Murder, She Vlogged" because the show is for old people who are the only ones who still would bother with a video blog - if they're trying to skew younger, maybe "Murder, She Vined".

  • Gully_Foyle Oct 26, 2013

    Oh dear Lord, the news just keeps getting worse.
    Jack Donnelly just announced that Atlantis has been renewed for a second season

  • mst3kr Oct 26, 2013

    Wow. First Octavia Spencer as a modern-era Jessica Fletcher. And now talks abut rebooting Charmed... I realize that fresh ideas are a dime-a-dozen these days in Hollywood. Oh, wait. They're not.

    I loved MSW when it was on the air. Like Columbo & Ellery Queen, it was fun playing detective along with the protagonist. And while I can understand rebooting a successful show like Murder, She Wrote into the modern times, casting a young (well, younger than Jessica Fletcher, anyways), black lead is counter to what the show was [originally] all about which, if you have fans from the original, will be tough to bring those fans to the new show. Granted, you can change the dynamics of a/the show and still keep the mechanics of the show alive. Still, while a strong actress, Octavia Spencer seems to be an odd choice for MSW. Granted, she can give off a likeable, unassuming, non-threatening vibe, which is great for a cozy mystery. It'll just be hard by fans to make the transition from what MSW is [strongly] remembered as to this new imagining of MSW.

    Maybe Kathy Bates, Hellen Mirren, or even Catherine O'Hara in the role???

  • mrjimmyjames Oct 26, 2013

    Really, Seth McFarlane? Of all the Family Guy characters, you decided to spinoff Cleveland? I don't know how it made it to 4 seasons.

  • mrjimmyjames Oct 26, 2013

    Does anyone confuse Kathryn Hahn with Ana Gasteyer?

  • JT_Kirk Oct 26, 2013

    I don't, but I see how you could.

  • mrjimmyjames Oct 26, 2013

    Will this be a full reboot of Murder She Wrote? Or will it be like 90210 or Girl Meets World, a continuation of old characters mixed with new descendants of those characters?

  • mrjimmyjames Oct 25, 2013

    I didn't realize that Fred Silverman had come back to NBC. Who could forget his greatest success? Supertrain! What a success that was!

  • JT_Kirk Oct 26, 2013

    Don't forget Hello Larry, Pink Lady and Jeff, and the post-Lorne Michaels-era SNL debacles. Then again, were it not for Fred Silverman, Al Franken probably wouldn't be serving in the senate today.

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