On June 11, 20th Century Fox releases the big-screen version of the 1980s action-adventure series “The A-Team,” created by Jules Daly and prolific writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell (“The Rockford Files,” “Baretta,” “21 Jump Street,” “Wiseguy,” “Profit”) . Both Daly and Cannell are producers on the film.
Cannell, now also a prolific mystery novelist, is pleased with the result, which stars Liam Neeson, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, Patrick Wilson and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (with appearances by original cast members Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz).
“I’m just very pleased with the way Joe Carnahan directed,” Cannell says, “and the cast that we got. I think people who go to the ‘A-Team’ movie are going to have a really good time.”
Cannell has a script in his back pocket for another movie version of one of his TV creations, and it turns out he knows an actor who might want to star in it.
From 1981-’83, on ABC, Cannell’s comedy-drama “The Greatest American Hero” starred William Katt as teacher Ralph Hinkley (later changed to Hanley) who acquired superhero powers when aliens gave him a red suit. Robert Culp played FBI Agent Bill Maxwell, Ralph’s partner and handler.
On Monday, May 17, in “A Deadly Game,” the season-two finale of ABC’s hit mystery-drama “Castle,” Cannell makes his third appearance as himself, playing a poker buddy of fictional mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion).
One reason Cannell has been on the show is that he’s a longtime friend and mentor of “Castle” executive producer and director Rob Bowman (“The X-Files,” “Reign of Fire”).
Back in February, on the set of “Castle,” Fillion told Zap2it, “The superheroes, they’re all being claimed. Everybody’s got their superhero, so I’m thinking, ‘Who’s left? Who can I get?’ And I think ‘The Greatest American Hero’ would be a great one. I bend people’s ear about that once every once in a while.
“I think I’ve got a lock on what it is to be the unlikely hero the antihero, the guy that is not the super-coolest guy in the room, the guy who can’t believe what’s going on around him, who’s unprepared, who has a sense of duty and responsibility, but is unprepared for it.”
He has even picked his own Bill Maxwell.
“Off the top of my head,” says Fillion, “I’m going to say Gregg Henry.”
Told of Fillion’s interest on Friday (May 14), Cannell says, “I didn’t know that. This is great news for me. I’m actually going to pursue that. I have a script already written. I would love to talk to him about that.”
As for Henry, Cannell says, “Gregg Henry … that is actually an amazingly good idea. We’ve never discussed that. I had Gregg Henry in a pilot once that didn’t sell. I mean, he was so good in the pilot, it was just breathtaking.”
Asked what he thinks about the possibility of Bowman as director, Cannell says, “Of course! You’ve put this whole package together for me. That’s a great idea. I will actually pursue it.”
Of course, that does leave the question of the suit. which Cannell describes as, “a Spandex red outfit with jockey-shorts underwear and a cape.”
Fear not, Fillion has a plan for that.
“You’d have to update,” he says. “I’ve talked to William Katt about that stuff. We met, and he said, ‘Man, that suit.’ I think it haunted him a little but. But I would think, in the new, updated version, with the special effects we have available, the suit should have more abilities, be like an Iron Man suit.
“It would change to what you would need it to do, right? That’s my own little twist.”
Photo credit: ABC