Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hypothetical Answer to Mike's Hypothetical Question - Magnum Movie

I decided to "elevate" Mike's comment question to a blog post since it's a good one and will let me rant and rave more!  Also, since it's not about a set photo as usual, here is a picture of Tom I found in a drawer at McClain's that sold off everything last weekend at about .15 cents on the dollar.  A dealer even came from the mainland to fill a container because things went so cheaply.

Anyway, there would be no reason to contact me about the look of any of the sets.  Any decent Hollywood Art Director or Set Designer would be able to pull the basic design (interior and exterior) of any of the sets that were seen on Magnum.  Screen grabs, blow ups, and production stills taken by the studio during filming would all provide more than enough information to re-create as much as they want of the show's original settings.  If they want to do that at all.

As to the expense of new, original vs. recreation, it might cost a bit more having new sets designed as a Production Designer and staff would have to be employed, but not significantly more than another team going over hours of DVD's looking for set views and drawing plans.

And now a few words from the blogmeister............(ok, more than a few).......

When a producer or studio purchases the rights to a property such as "Fantasy Island" or "Hawaii Five-0," they aren't necessarily buying any obligation to re-create a museum replica of the original.  Obviously there is some obligation to have 5-0 take place in Hawaii instead of Maine and "Fantasy Island" not take place on Fire Island, but given time and societal changes that have happened in the 20-30 years since these TV shows first aired and the current film tastes (car explosions, f-word, computer effects, and MTV editing, etc.), one would assume a recreation would not be practical if you wanted to make your $500 million opening weekend at the multiplex.

I mention those 2 shows because I did do a pilot for "Hawaii 5-0" in 1997 and I was the decorator for the pilot and (only) 13 episodes of the "new" "Fantasy Island" with Malcom McDowell in 1998.  Granted these were TV to TV and not TV to film revivals, but they will serve as examples.  

With 5-0, the only original cast member involved was James McArthur.  Ever young at heart, he looked more like Albert Einstein with a mop of gray hair than the clean-cut, subservient Danno of the original series.  One version of the MANY scripts we went through had McGarret in his deathbed filmed from the rear, passing the torch to Gary Busey and Russel Wong. (sniff)  Originally the police office sets were going to be super-modern, futuristic on a high floor of the recently created First Hawaiian Bank tower downtown.  When they finally found a director for the pilot, they decided ultimately on a more retro look built inside the old post office building--ironically across the street from the now revered Iolani Palace which was just another public building when it was the TV home of the fictional 5-0 state police.  After that it was just another cops and robbers show that was so bad (mainly because of you-know-who) that it never aired at all.

The other revival show, "Fantasy Island," was a bit closer to the original series.  There was still the plane that landed (an amazing feat on the fish pond at Kualoa Ranch!), a bell tower, the mysterious Mr. Roark (this time in Armani suits), a beautiful tropical hotel, but no annoying "boss, boss, deplane, deplane" person (although we did have a portrait of him in the hotel lobby in the pilot).  The show was produced by 2 famous Hollywood producers ("the 2 Barrys"), Sony Studio, and had 3 famous stars as regulars.  

Problem #1 - it was aimed at a "young and trendy" audience, yet it aired on Saturday night.  Young and trendy audiences are not at home on Saturday nights--but did anyone ask me that?  The now older, not-so-trendy original watchers didn't like the new version and watched something else.

#2 - there were 2-3 "fantasies" per episode and most of them were "bummer" fantasies.  Unlike the original where they fulfilled positive dreams and aspirations, one woman on ours asked for "ultimate knowledge" and promptly discovered her sister was sleeping with her husband.  Bummer.  A REALLY strange fantasy (on the kinky side) was this woman fighting in an all woman's army unit in WWII against other all woman Japanese soldiers.  The producers actually thought the USMC here was going to help them with equipment!   Can you imagine the military actually wanted to read the script ahead of time?!  (duh) I was the one who got the call from some general on the mainland since I was relying on all their tents and equipment for the battleground set.  Basically he said, "Are you out of your mind?"  So, big surprise, no military help.  I saved the day (again) by using this theme  party company that did "Mash" parties with vodka in the IV bottles for their party equipment.  I know, wrong era, but no more absurd than the women to women combat troupes were.  That might even have its own series potential?!  General Mylie Cyrus?  Maybe not.

So, moving along, what I am getting at finally, is that there is no reason to think that there would be a re-creation of what we all lovingly remember (some better than others) of the original Magnum series.  I would assume that they would build all interiors on sound stages in L.A. and could even do the exteriors in Mexico or Australia where it is cheaper to film.  I would hope the Thomas Magnum character would at least have a mustache and wear a baseball cap (and not shave his head and wear an earing),  but you can be sure he won't be wearing his former jogging shorts!  I read somewhere that Tom Selleck had said he hadn't been approached at all about the possible film.  And why would they any more than they would contact anyone who worked on the original series? Maybe Tom playing Russell Crowe's father?  The main ticket buying demographic today did not watch Magnum in the 1980's.  They were born in the 1980's.  Hey, I don't make this stuff up!  

I guess if a picture is worth a thousand words, I'd better stick to photos.

Aloha,  Rick


Marco said...

Great article! And here (and only here :-)) the problem is: you are right!

Nobody wants to see a Magnum-version like "Starsky and Hutch" was for example (the only thing I liked in this film was the short cameo of the old TV series actors).

What people who loved the Magnum TV show want to see is where "their" Magnum is these days, what Higgins is up to, if Rick is still married to Cleo (was he married after all?) and if TC has expanded his helicopter business.

The problem is exactly like Rick said: that would only target the viewers of the original series and leave the "money makers" out and likely the movie would not gross enough in cinemas. They would likely just extract the comedic aspects of the show (the fighting between Magnum and Higgins, Magnum is always broke etc.) and leave out all the other things that made the character so beloved and deep during the 8-year run on TV. Nobody of us here wants to see a "Starsky and Hutch" Version of "Magnum", starring Matthew Mc[whatsoever] and whomever for the support cast (likely 50 cent as TC, Ben Stiller as Rick and I don't even want to think about who would be playing Higgins).

On the other side, I do think that many producers don't see the potential in the audience of the original series for a TV movie. I am absolutely sure that a Magnum TV movie where the writers would settle the storyline a few years after the show ended, include the original cast (to what extend it is possible) would generate a ratings hit. As far as I know, Hillerman is retired completely and would maybe only be available for a short cameo - maybe Higgins went back to England and they show a short scene when he instructs the new keeper on Robin's Nest about how to treat Magnum. There is plenty of possibilities. Mosley and Manetti are available still - see the great idea of the "reunion" within "Las Vegas" (even that could not save this (Sorry!) crappy show though).

Anyway - I do think that there would be a a lot of money to make for the producers including DVDs and so on - the generation targeted could generate a good profit for them. But the key is (and another agreement with Rick's post): It must respect and in many ways follow the original show. Like you said Rick: Nobody wants to tune into this and see a rip-off or something like you described for Fantasy Island (shiver me timbers!). There's no need to have the same Ferrari and same 80s clothing - but it should be the same estate (if possible), a new Ferrari and Magnum must break into the estate at least once and be chased by Dobermans. There should be some references to Magnums past in the Vietnam war, to the series in general - but mainly it needs to let "us" know what happened in the meantime where he was "away". There are so many ways this COULD work - and it would still make good money. I might be naive - but we see that Selleck still has quite some appeal to viewers (see the Jesse Stone movies which do air and sell on DVD very well in the US and also overseas) plus Magnum was a hit show where many people bought DVD sets from and so on. There IS potential - but someone needs to do it right!

One last comparison I want to make might be the "Hart to Hart" TV movies which were made in the 90s. They did it exactly right IMHO - they included the original cast, they used the same pattern but modernized it a bit. At least over here, many many people liked it - because it was what they wanted to see. With the exception of Hillerman (whom I would love to see reprising his role of course) the main cast is totally available - including some beloved supporting actors like Kathleen Lloyd as well etc. It is not yet too late, I think.

Mike (N1095A) said...

Thank you Rick for devoting an entire blog entry to my question. Quite an honor. Also, Thanks to Marco for expressing what I think all MPI fans feel. Although I disagree on one point, I think a Ferrari 308 GTS should make an appearence at least once. Maybe in the estate garage, well preserved? I think both Rick and Marco have given perspective, and a realistic although differing look at what we could expect from a MPI movie if it were done right. By the way Rick, Love the new avatar photo. Beautiful dog. I'm a bit of a dog nut. You should post a couple of your own photos in full size so we can all see them.

Magnum Decorator said...

One of the reasons for writing so much about the possible Magnum movie was to inform you all about the possibilities of what may happen in doing a revival show--I guess more on the negative side. Marco has expressed what he hopes will happen on the positive side. Whenever someone says that I'm a pessimist, I usually say that I am a realist. Of course I hope for the best, but the track record of Hollywood and revivals has not been a very good one. I was the lead man on the Hawaii portions of "The Brady Bunch Sequel" and "George of the Jungle" so I guess I could have told even more horror stories!
Thanks for the photo comment. Obviously my dog is cuter than my bunny ears were. I have thought about posting more about myself, but I'm kind of a private person. Well, as private as anyone can be now on the internet. On a site recently I discovered that I had a speeding ticket in 1996 and it even gave the name of the officer who gave it to
me! That will be out in cyberspace longer than I will be in this space!

Aloha, Rick

Anonymous said...

I want to see the old Magnum cast reunited so we can see what they've been up to the past 20 years. I think the best way is to have a mini-series. Make it five episodes. That would hit the spot. If the ratings are good then they could make a big screen movie. The mini-series approach would be a good DVD seller.

Magnum Decorator said...

You and about 10,000,000 other people! Unfortunately, I can't imagine the cast all wanting to reunite. First, I doubt that any of them need the money, not that a reunion would generate much. Most of them have not worked at all (or very little) since the series ended. Probably the most important reason is that actors want to be remembered as they were then, not 20 years older with gray hair and wrinkles and maybe some other health issues. They all had a good, 8 year run, their shows are still being seen around the world, obviously there is still interest in them and the series, but I can't imagine any of them wanting to come back for a reunion show. If only 1 or 2 of them did, it just wouldn't be the same. Just enjoy the memories!

Anonymous said...

Larry Manetti and Roger Mosley both did one episode of Las Vegas with Tom Selleck in 2007. The gang appeared to have a great time together and they made some references to Magnum. If that is any indication, I think they would be willing to do a reunion movie or miniseries. John Hillerman has not done much the past decade and may not want to be involved, but we may get a cameo apperance or they could have him on the phone the way they did Robin Masters. Lance LeGault is listed in IMDB as having completed a movie. Kathleen Lloyd (Assistant District Attorney Carol Baldwin) is young enough to be in the movie. I'm shocked to see that Jeff MacKay (Lieutenant 'Mac' MacReynolds) died in 2008.

James Garner gave fans of the Rockford Files eight movies. If we can't get a Magnum movie, how about another Rockford Files movie with Lance White (played brilliantly by Tom Selleck). HaHa, that is one way Tom could stick it to the people who produced Magnum and don't want him in a movie.

Magnum Decorator said...

The woman who replaced me on "LOST" was the original decorator on "Last Vegas" that Tom is/was on (I've never seen it). A lot of actors worry about being typecast in the sort of rolls they were in on TV. It's hard for a "normally a villain" to play the good guy. Casting directors and producers are often to blame for this since they worry their audiences accepting a good guy as a bad guy. I give credit to Tom who didn't keep playing "Tom" roles and wasn't afraid to change his look as well as his image. As much as I enjoyed watching James Garner (once called the "New Cary Grant") over the years, he pretty much always played himself--as do many non-character actors.