Jack and the Beanstalk begins development
Fee fie fo fum: CBS, home of network television's most dominant movie franchise for the past two years, is looking to a lavish new version of "Jack and the Beanstalk'' to help it remain No. 1.
The network has inked a deal with Jim Henson Television for a four-hour miniseries that will use state-of-the-art special effects to retell the classic story of Jack and his encounter with the giant.
"Jack'' is being developed for late 2000 or early 2001, and heads up an ambitious slate of made-for-TV movies and miniseries in development at CBS for winter 2000 and next season. Other projects in the works include:
- "Adam and Eve,'' a four-hour miniseries that puts a new twist on the Bible story of man's fall from grace;
- A two-hour biopic on late crooner John Denver, with Chad Lowe starring as the Rocky Mountain singer;
- "Guilty Hearts,'' a true-crime miniseries about a Long Island, NY heart specialist accused of killing his wife.
Rod Perth, president of Jim Henson Television Group Worldwide, said the "Jack'' miniseries will make extensive use of Jim Henson's Creature Shop to create the beanstalk, the giant and his kingdom.
While it will revolve around an English boy's confrontation with a giant, much of the story will be reinvented. For those who think they know all there is to know about the fairy tale, scribe James V. Hart (''Contact'') says: You don't know ''Jack.''
"We'll have the traditional telling of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' and a very untraditional telling,'' Hart said, explaining that his take on the tale will look at Jack as both boy and man.
In addition, "No one ever takes the giant's point of view. This telling will examine (Jack's magic-seed theft) from both sides ... We'll also explain once and for all the meaning of 'fee fie fo fum.' "
"Adam and Eve'' also promises to offer "provocative'' insight into the story of creation and man's first sin, according to Sunta Izzicupo, CBS' senior VP for movies and miniseries.
The story will be told from the point of view of Adam and Eve's son, Cain. It will also use special effects to bring to life the animals of the Garden of Eden, as well as the serpent who tempts Eve.
"It's going to have a real relevance to current day events,'' said Izzicupo.
The Denver biopic is scheduled for broadcast this season. CBS previously announced plans for a Linda McCartney biopic to air this season. It is also working on a four-hour Marilyn Monroe miniseries based on the upcoming tome "Blonde.''
CBS Prods. has also cast Anne Heche and Sam Shepard in "One Kill,'' a two-hour picture about a female Marine murdered by her boyfriend, a fellow soldier. The movie will debut on cable's Showtime before bowing on CBS.
Last season, CBS' Sunday movie franchise was the No. 9 program overall, averaging a 12.1 Nielsen rating and 19 share in households, and accounting for 16 of the top 20 highest-rated made-for-TV movies.