Jul 21, 2008

Tradecraft: Purefoy's Saint Series Dead?

Here's some truly disappointing news to start off the week. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Barry Levinson-directed revival of The Saint, which was set to star the perfectly-cast James Purefoy as Simon Templar, "didn't go forward." Apparently Purefoy is instead opting to star in a different show with a very similar premise, The Philanthropist. (It really could have been an ITC title in the late Sixties; I'm surprised they didn't think of it!) Says the trade, "Philanthropist centers on a renegade billionaire (Purefoy) who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter the risks or costs." That's pretty much what Simon Templar does, the only real difference being that his wealth is ill-gained. The Reporter ends its report on The Philanthropist with this brief statement on The Saint: "Earlier this year, CAA-repped Purefoy was attached to The Saint, an independently produced two-hour backdoor pilot with Levinson on board to direct, but the project didn't go forward."

"Didn't go forward?" So what does that mean? Is the project dead? Will it still go forward in the future, but with another star? All LeslieCharteris.com (the premier site for Saintly information) can add at this point is that shooting on the pilot has been delayed until "at least August" because of a possible actors' strike. (Such a strike seems very unlikely at this point.)

Muddying the waters further is how incestuous this whole Saint/Purefoy/Philanthropist triangle really is. The original producers on The Philanthropist were Levinson and Tom Fontana, both of whom were also on The Saint! They've now been replaced, however, by Battlestar Gallactica and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys producer David Eick. So were Levinson and Fontana really developing such similar projects simultaneously? Or did The Saint somehow morph into The Philanthropist? That seems an unlikely scenario, given that the trade states The Philanthropist got a 13-episode order from NBC nearly a year ago. More likely, the shows aren't really as similar as they sound in loglines.

Whatever the tangled web behind the scenes, this story saddens me. As I was just saying earlier this month, I was really looking forward to this newest incarnation of The Saint--and primarily because of Purefoy's involvement. I hope that the matter is not yet said and done, and that we still might somehow see a James Purefoy Saint series sooner or later.

17 comments:

The King Of Cool said...

I'm sad to see this happen. I'm a big fan of Purefoy. I really loved the idea of him heading up The Saint.

bish8 said...

This is too bad. It's long past time for a well done reincarnation of the saint.

David said...

I hope it's not dead, and we'll see the character revived successfully.

It only seems like yesterday, the pilot was being heralded at Cannes.

Tanner said...

Me too, David, me too. I really hope it's not dead. And I hope if it IS still happening, I hope they don't have to recast. Purefoy was PERFECT! I'd hate to see it come back together with a totally-wrong-for-the-part American actor in the lead...

Big Time Saint Fan said...

This is very disappointing news. Hopefully the project will be revived with another actor taking over as the Saint. I'd like to suggest Alexander Siddig, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as a possible replacement for Purefoy if they decide to go ahead with the new Saint movie/series.

Big Time Saint Fan said...

Although I believe Alexander Siddig would be very good in the role of Simon Templar I also feel Adrian Paul, from the Highlander TV series, could do very well in the part. I think Siddig's Templar would be younger and more "worldly." Paul's Templar, on the other hand, would be a little older/more mature and probably a little more British (in my opinion). There are many Adrian Paul fans who strongly supported him as a possible "James Bond" before Daniel Craig was got the part. Hopefully these fans would also support him in the part of Simon Templar which could help bring a bigger initial fan base to the new Saint movie/series. Either way, I don't feel the producers could go wrong by casting Siddig or Paul as a replacement for Purefoy. Hopefully this series will "re-tool" a bit and still go forward. Although I was at one time hopeful of a Saint movie series similar to the James Bond series, I am now really looking forward to seeing "The Saint" on my TV screen again. If the producers update "The Saint" but are otherwise basically faithful to the original Leslie Charteris novels there will be a strong, "built-in" audience for the new movie/series which should make it successful.

Big Time Saint Fan said...

OK, here's a possible replacement for Purefoy that would probably get a lot of attention: Jason Connery. Hopefully the producers will announce something soon. It's too bad that at this point it looks like the newest version of "The Saint" is dead.

Delmo said...

While I'm disappointed that the Purefoy Saint series may be dead, I wasn't exactly enamored of the plot, with Templar working for an organization called the Knights Templar and the Saint being his code name. If they have to re-cast, no to Alexander Siddig(Templar isn't Indian), Connery lookalike Adrian Paul, or Jason Connery. I'd rather see someone like Ioan Gruffudd play him.

Delmo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul F. said...

How did I miss this news story? This will kill me if the series / pilot are killed off (even if I also had my issues with the plot). Adrian Paul and Jason Connery are good choices, but I still like Richard Armitage, but he's locked into season 3 of the BBC's Robin Hood as we speak.

Paul F

Big Time Saint Fan said...

A couple of points: 1. I agree that Ioan Gruffudd would make an outstanding Simon Templar but I'm wondering if he's become "too big" to take on a TV series. It's a great suggestion, however, and it would be a real coup if the producers were able to get him for the part. 2. I think the suggestion of Richard Armitage may be good. I must admit I'm not really familiar with him so I looked him up on IMDB and his body of work looks impressive. Spooks/MI-5 is a good series and he has done several episodes of that show. He basically looks the part. 3. Alexander Siddig isn't Indian. Siddig was born in Sudan but raised in England. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at times they seemed to really play up his character's "English background." In one of the episodes he even played a James Bond style spy in one a holodeck simulation that nearly went wrong for the DS9 crew and became the main focus of that entire episode. 4. What about a Canadian for Templar? David James Elliott from the TV series JAG might be good but he'd have to have a dialogue coach to work with him on the accent. Well, those are my opinions. Hopefully the series will be recast, have the plot somewhat reworked and still go forward. It has been too long since we've seen a good version of The Saint on TV or in the movies.

Delmo said...

Ok-I stand corrected regarding Siddig's background but Templar isn't a Sudanese raised in the UK either. I loved the "Our Man Bashir" episode of DS9 but The Saint isn't a person of color and should not be played by such, in my opinion. As for David James Elliot, he's 2 years away from being 50. I would think we would want someone in their 30's to play Simon. If we are looking to someone in the 50 range, just get Brosnan. I would've loved to have seen him play The Saint.

Tanner said...

I hate to say it, but I'm really not that familiar with any of the names being mentioned here! I'm afraid I only know Ioan Gruffudd from the Fantastic Four movies, and he certainly did not impress me there, although I understand he's done better work before. I liked Jason Connery in The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, but not in the Harry Palmer movies he did. I don't really think he's Saint material. And I've never seen Siddig or Paul or Elliott or Armitage (his Spooks haven't aired in the US yet) in anything! So I can't really comment on any of these guys individually. They all seem qualified in one way or another, and they're certainly all interesting choices, but I'd like to see an English Templar... or at least some one from the British Isles. Also, except for Armitage, all these guys seem a bit old for the part.

So do I have any suggestions, anything worthwhile to add to this debate? Um... not really. I just kind of latched onto Purefoy, because he seemed so perfect. I can't yet picture anyone else!

OK, actually, I do have an idea... and it's a really off-beat one. What about Russell Brand? Granted, he'd absolutely have to cut his hair (which he seems unlikely to do), but he's really got that Saintish charm. Watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he kept reminding me of Pierce Brosnan (who would indeed have made a wonderful Saint). In fact, not being familiar with his comedy and not knowing who he was when I saw a test screening of that movie last year, I wondered for a moment if he was Brosnan's son! I know it's a weird choice, but it's the only one I can really come up with right now...

Big Time Saint Fan said...

I know I've made a number of suggestions for possible actors to play Simon Templar but I think I may have finally thought of one actor who might be ideal and acceptable to most fans: Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He has been in a number of movies including "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Mission: Impossible III." He's definitely young enough for the part (possibly unlike some of my past suggestions) and while he's not British he is Irish. I seem to recall that a number of people have suggested that Pierce Brosnan would have made a good Simon Templar in his younger years. Brosnan is also Irish. Brosnan did play British secret agent James Bond 007 quite successfully. I think Irish actors can play British character and do a more than credible job in the role. I'd be interested in reading what other people think. Hopefully we'll see "The Saint" back on the small screen or the big screen sometime in the near future.

Big Time Saint Fan said...

I just saw a promo for the upcoming season of "Burn Notice." I can't believe that a new TV or movie series of "The Saint" wouldn't be successful if the right producer, writers and lead actor were found. The Roger Moore episodes were well done for their time. In my opinion an updated or possibly the right "retro" version would go over well --- especially on a cable network like USA, TNT, SPIKE, etc. I hope there are new attempts to bring "The Saint" back to TV or possibly to start a movie series similar to the James Bond movies. I think the Leslie Charteris character and stories are very worthy of continuing to live today and that new stories using his character would also do well if they try to stay as true to the original as possible.

Big Time Saint Fan said...

I was recently looking at the Leslie Charteris website (www.lesliecharteris.com). When I looked under their "News" tab I found a short item that says IMDb lists T.J. Scott as the director for a planned pilot for a new version of "The Saint." I clicked on the IMDb link but very few details were available about the planned pilot. Hopefully the pilot actually makes it to the air this time and a new TV series is picked up or it renews interest in a movie series based on "The Saint."

Big Time Saint Fan said...

It looks like "The Saint" isn't the only former ITC series getting new life. After a little exploring around IMDb I found a possible movie version of the "The Persuaders" mentioned here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0464147/. I also found information about the upcoming AMC mini-series remake of "The Prisoner" mentioned on this page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061287/news. If it goes well with remakes of these two shows and the latest attempt at a remake of "The Saint" it looks like it could be a fun three years for fans of a number of former ITC television shows.