NBC has agreed to a put pilot commitment on a reboot of Angela Lansbury‘s hugely popular and long running mystery series Murder, She Wrote. That means that we’re definitely seeing Octavia Spencer in the lead role some time soon.
With television development being the way it is, there’s usually not a guarantee that a show will actually air until after a pilot is produced and the network commits to a series. A put pilot, however is a distinctly different animal, and that’s what Deadline is calling Alexandra Cunningham and producer David Janollari‘s new project, starring Oscar winner Octavia Spencer. The “put” part of a put pilot means that the network has agreed to air the pilot regardless of whether they pick it up for a series or pay some steep fees to the production studio that made it. It means that whatever Cunningham, Janollari, and Spencer produce, we’re very very likely to actually see it air.
And what will they produce? Deadline describes the Murder, She Wrote redo:
Described as a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of Bones or Fargo, it follows a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel. Set in a day where sensational headlines inundate the news, this woman’s avid fascination with true crime leads her to become an active participant in the investigations.
Bones and Fargo are some good names to drop, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a woman of color take the solo lead in a detective procedural, says the young fan of The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo that hides inside me. Apparently, the entire idea began with Octavia Spencer:
“I’ve always considered myself an armchair detective and in a recent meeting with [NBC Chairman] Bob Greenblatt, he asked me what type of character would be able to lure me to TV. Naturally, I said ” J.B. Fletcher” meets “Colombo”… And here we are. I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Dave Janollari again, and Alex Cunningham a brilliant writer who shares my love for all things mysterious and Angela Lansbury.”
Lansbury herself was nominated for a lead actress Emmy for her work in every one of Murder, She Wrote‘s twelve seasons, but I can imagine Spencer filling the role admirably. And while Deadline doesn’t give a source for the info, they “hear” that Lansbury has been approached to appear in the adaptation. Either way, this is something that needs to be on television.