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Viewing Single Post From: 'Murder, She Wrote' Rebooted ... With a Twist
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Jessica Fletcher is digging her typewriter out of storage... and she looks a lot different this time.

NBC announced today it is rebooting "Murder, She Wrote," with Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in the lead role. The original series, of course, starred Angela Lansbury as mystery writer-turned-detective Jessica Fletcher (a role that earned her a whopping 12 Emmy nominations ó but no wins), and was a staple of CBS's primetime lineup from 1984 to 1996.

The new take on "Murder," from writer Alexandra Cunningham ("Desperate Housewives") and producer David Janollari ("Six Feet Under"), casts Spencer as "a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth who self-publishes her first mystery novel." Spencer said in a statement, "Iíve always considered myself an armchair detective, and in a recent meeting with [NBC entertainment 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 Columbo'Ö and here we are."

Spencer, who took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2011 for playing sassy maid Minny Johnson in "The Help," might seem an unlikely choice to fill Lansbury's shoes. But Spencer has proven she can balance comedy and drama with a wide array of roles, from this year's gut-wrenching indie drama "Fruitvale Station" to a hilarious guest turn on "30 Rock." Plus, this "Murder, She Wrote" is described as "a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of 'Bones' or 'Fargo,'" so her comedy chops should come in handy.

It's important to note, too, that this is a "put pilot," which means NBC has committed to actually airing this version of "Murder, She Wrote," and will face substantial financial penalties if it doesn't. That means NBC is betting big on this reboot actually making it onto its primetime schedule.

Of course, before we get too excited, we should remember the spotty track record of recent TV reboots. For every success ("Hawaii Five-0"), there are four or five misses ("Ironside"). In fact, "Ironside" is a good comparison here: It's another NBC procedural that reimagined a beloved TV classic with a prominent black actor (Blair Underwood) in the lead role. And that got the axe after airing just three episodes this fall.

Will the new "Murder, She Wrote" fare any better? That chapter has yet to be written.

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