Re: MICK is getting a sitcom!!!!!
Date: April 26, 2006 20:57
April 26, 2006
Mick Jagger Joins a New ABC Sitcom
By BILL CARTER
Trying to conjure some way to make a new television series stand out, show creators sometimes come up with pie-in-the-sky notions, like getting Jerry Seinfeld to come back and star in a sitcom, or inducing Vince Vaughn to quit movies.
But Mick Jagger?
By far the most unlikely star of a prospective fall situation comedy is that still-active lead singer of the Rolling Stones, who has signed on to an ABC pilot for its fall schedule. Just to increase the degree of unlikelihood, Mr. Jagger shot his scenes for the New York-based pilot in a hotel room in Auckland, New Zealand, last week.
That was the culmination of a saga at least as whimsical as the premise of the show, which, for now, anyway, is titled "Let's Rob Mick Jagger."
The writing team that came up with the idea, Rob Burnett, long David Letterman's executive producer, and his partner, Jon Beckerman, had previously created the NBC comedy-drama "Ed." As Mr. Burnett outlined the tale in a telephone interview, he and Mr. Beckerman "wondered if there was a way do a serialized comedy — something like a comedy version of 'Lost' or '24.' "
Hatched in numerous meetings, the concept centered on a janitor for a prominent New York building, to be played by the character actor Donal Logue. Down on his luck, the janitor sees a celebrity on television wallowing in his wealth during a tour of his new Manhattan penthouse. Enlisting a crew of similar ordinary but frustrated accomplices, the janitor conceives a plot to rob the big shot's apartment, a story line that would unfold over a 24-episode television season.
Mr. Burnett said that the series would track the plotting of the robbers, who would eventually ingratiate themselves with the apartment's glamorous owner. That would entail actually seeing the real-life celebrity interact on occasion with the fictional thieves.
The question was: Who could the celebrity be? "We didn't want it to be too on the nose, like Tom Cruise," Mr. Burnett said. "Not that he would have done it anyway."
The creators decided that they had to have the name before they could pitch the series effectively to network programmers. Finally they came up with it: "Jeff Goldblum seemed silly, just right," Mr. Burnett said. Not that the writers bothered to inform Mr. Goldblum that he had been selected by their imaginations. "He was just the place holder," Mr. Burnett said. Until a network committed to this goofy idea, the creators were not going to write a script to be sent to Mr. Goldblum to test his interest.
They just wanted to pitch his name. If a deal was made, they would write in Mr. Goldblum. If he declined to sign on, Mr. Burnett said, "we'd just rewrite it with another celebrity."
Not at all sure what reaction they would get, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Beckerman journeyed to Los Angeles from New York, accompanied by Mr. Logue, and met with the four major networks.
"We realized that we would know where we stood about one second into the meeting," Mr. Burnett said. "As soon as we said 'Let's Rob Jeff Goldblum,' we'd know. And we did. They all laughed."
Every network made an offer, but Fox and ABC went the extra mile, committing not just to a script, but to also guaranteeing that a pilot would be shot. Mr. Burnett said that he was impressed with Peter Liguori at Fox and Stephen McPherson at ABC, the top program executives at those networks. Eventually they chose ABC.
A script was written and a supporting cast secured, all except the guy with his name in the title. Mr. Goldblum was intrigued, Mr. Burnett said, but he had already committed to a pilot at NBC. With time running short — all the auditioning actors were still talking about knocking over Jeff Goldblum's place — the producers pondered a list of famous names, seeking one that might catch the nation's fancy and their own.
Finally Mr. McPherson threw out a name no one had considered: Mick Jagger. It was far-fetched, but the writing team loved the idea. They were more excited when Mr. Jagger's representatives sent word they enjoyed the script and would run it by the singer.
"We were thrilled, but we still didn't think it was real," Mr. Burnett said. The pilot was shot, with the celebrity's scenes left out, but with the other characters using Mr. Jagger's name as their target.
Finally Mr. Burnett got word that Mr. Jagger, then on tour with the Stones in Japan, had read the script himself and liked it very much. He would be calling Mr. Burnett directly on March 24. "I was a little scared to leave the house," Mr. Burnett said.
Mr. Jagger called at 2 a.m. "He was enthusiastic," Mr. Burnett said. "He asked all the right questions. How was the series going to build? Could the idea sustain? He seemed like a guy who cared a great deal about the quality of work he gets involved with."
The answers satisfied Mr. Jagger. He agreed to join the pilot. The only trouble was he would be halfway around the world for weeks. Mr. McPherson at ABC pressed to get the pilot completed with enough time for ABC to give it full consideration for its fall schedule.
Mr. Burnett and Mr. Beckerman flew to New Zealand on April 17. They first had to find a location that might pass as a Manhattan apartment, then hire a film crew. Finally they had to direct Mr. Jagger in his American sitcom debut.
A luxury hotel in Auckland stood in for the penthouse. The crew was professional. As for Mr. Jagger, he threw himself enthusiastically into the project, Mr. Burnett said. "He did a lot of ad-libbing. Some of the funniest stuff in the pilot came from him. He's just a smart, funny guy."
He is also now a star of an ABC pilot for the fall 2006 television season. Mr. Burnett, not wanting to jinx what has been a charmed project so far, said, "We just hope to be one of the ones they pick up."
If ABC does order the series, Mr. Jagger is expected to appear regularly, though not in every episode. "We'll work around his schedule," Mr. Burnett said. Not much has been worked out as to how successful the band of thieves might be in their heist, and like the serialized shows that inspired this one, a big question remains about how the series will continue after its first season.
Most likely Mr. Jagger's participation will end, one reason the title will almost surely not end up "Let's Rob Mick Jagger." Mr. Burnett said the first season of the prospective series might culminate in a twist that sets up a second season. "They could come up with a different scheme," Mr. Burnett said, referencing the many get-rich schemes of Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners."
Or "they could just rob someone else completely different," he said. "How about: 'Let's Rob Tiger Woods' ? "