"A-Team" Movie Ramping Up
We love it when a plan comes together.
The long in the works big-screen version of the 1980s action series The A-Team is moving closer to megaplexes.
The show's mastermind, Stephen J. Cannell, and The A-Team movie's home base, 20th Century Fox, have hired veteran James Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein to pen the script, the studio confirmed to E! Tuesday.
The film has been in development for years, but Cannell says that the project is now gaining momentum.
The popular one-hour series, which ran from 1983 to 1987 on NBC, followed the high-octane adventures of a group of Vietnam vets ready to right the wrongs committed against the innocent while on the run for a crime they didn't commit.
According to Cannell, the A-Team flick will be updated to reflect current political issues. The film will also forego the cartoonish nature of the tube version in favor of more serious action ŕ la Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.
"Not to denigrate the TV show, but nobody ever died," the producer says in Variety. "We drove cars off cliffs and people got out and walked away. We're not going to do that [in the movie]. In this the tone is more dangerous-you can really die. It's very tense and exciting."
Cannell, who's producing the movie with Spike Seldin and Mark Silvestri, says he wants to bring new fans into the A-Team fold without alienating those who grew up watching the show. He hopes the hiring of Feirstein will accomplish that.
A contributing editor for Vanity Fair, Feirstein played a key role in relaunching the 007 franchise and updating Ian Fleming's martini-swilling superagent for the '90s with his scripts for 1995's Golden Eye, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies and 1999's The World Is Not Enough.
Feirstein has also written for the New York Times and New Yorker and pens the "Diary" column in the New York Observer.
Still no word who'll direct The A-Team, and casting has yet to get underway.
But don't expect to see the original stars reprise their roles.
George Peppard, who played the crew's wise-cracking, cigar-loving leader, Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, died in 1994. Meanwhile, Dirk Benedict (Lieutenant Templeton "Face" Peck) and Dwight Schultz (Captain H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdoch) have only worked sporadically in recent years, doing voiceovers for videogames and the occasional, usually forgettable feature.
But there's a possibility that The A-Team's most popular performer, Mr. T, aka 52-year-old Laurence Tureaud, might put in an appearance. Mr. T shot to icon status thanks to his role as Mohawk-sporting muscleman B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracas and the trademark phrase "I pity the fool," before fading into has-been status as a 1-800-COLLECT pitchman.
"Mr. T and I had lunch last week, and I'd really like to have him in the movie, although we haven't begun casting," Cannell tells Variety. "I always think it's nice to see the stars of the old show in cameo roles in the movie. But obviously he won't be playing B.A. Baracus."
While Feirstein gets to work on The A-Team, Cannell's is also busy adapting his Gen-X police drama 21 Jumpstreet into a feature film (though it's unlikely Johnny Depp would reprise the role that made him a Tiger Beat pinup). The producer, who also created The Rockford Files, Wiseguy, The Commish and Hunter, also has a deal with MGM to turn his novel King Con into a movie.