TV News: ‘The Exorcist,’ Shakespeare and Kevin James

The-Exorcist-William-Peter-Blatty‘Tis the season when networks start to pick up pilot pitches and scripts — some of which will be shot as actual pilots, and then some of those may get picked up for a series — and a few of them are of interest to the faith audience.

One of the big trends right now is IP, or “intellectual property.” In hopes of breaking through the clutter, especially in social media, networks are seeking to develop ideas that are already recognizable to the public and have a built-in audience — and better yet if they’re already among the properties of their corporate owners.

Therefore, we have Fox’s revival of “The X-Files,” which launched on Sunday and airs regularly on Mondays; “Damien,” premiering March 7 on A&E, based on the original “The Omen” movie (the network’s follow-up to “Bates Motel,” based on “Psycho”); and “Lucifer” on Fox, which just launched Monday (and which we discussed here yesterday), based on a comic-book character; and AMC’s “Preacher,” premiering later this year, based on another comic book.

(Click here to see a recent article where I discuss these shows, and a few others of interest).

The trend continues, as Fox has given a pilot order to “The Exorcist,” an updated reinvention of Catholic author William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel about Jesuit priests who go to battle with demonic entities possessing a girl, which became a hit feature film in 1973.

According to, regarding the new series:

The Exorcist is described as a propulsive, serialized psychological thriller following two very different men tackling one family’s case of horrifying demonic possession and confronting the face of true evil.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what this actually means.

Over at ABC, producer Shonda Rhimes — who’s already doing “Gray’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” for the network — has gotten a pilot order for “Still Star-Crossed,” a sequel to William Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet,” based on the book by Melinda Taub.


Set in 16th century Verona, it picks up where William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet left off, charting the treachery, palace intrigue and ill-fated romances of the Montagues and Capulets in the wake of the young lovers’ tragic fate.

Mitchell wrote the script and is executive producing with Shondaland’s Rhimes and Betsy Beers as well as The MrG Production Co.’s Michael R. Goldstein. ABC Studios, where Shondaland is based, is the studio.

Of course, both of these families are Catholic, but this isn’t the first time that Rhimes started work on a show involving Catholics. A graduate of a Catholic girls’ high school — but admitting nowhere to practicing Catholicism — Rhimes, well-known for her enthusiastic support of LGBT causes, is developing a show about Catholic nuns.

From Variety, as quoted in a piece I wrote about the project for my Pax Culturati blog at the Patheos Catholic Channel:

[The show centers] around a group of Catholic nuns fighting the closure of their Bronx-based convent, who must suddenly deal with three young novices whose arrival unearths long-buried secrets. The ensemble drama will throw into question everything you think you know about the “Brides of Christ.”

My hopes aren’t high for either of this projects, since Rhimes’ “Scandal” chose “Silent Night” as the soundtrack to the main character’s abortion in an episode last November.

If you don’t have a familiar theme or title, then a familiar face is the next best thing.

Kevin_James_2011_(Cropped)Catholic actor Kevin James (“The King of Queens,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Little Boy”) has gotten a 13-episode order for an as-yet-untitled multi-camera comedy that casts him as a retired cop who’s eager to spend more time with his wife and kids, only to discover that patrolling the streets may have been easier.

James is co-writing the comedy, set for the 2016-’17 season, with former “King of Queens” executive producer Rock Reuben and sitcom veteran Bruce Helford (who will also be showrunner).

Taylor Spreitler (“Melissa & Joey”) has also been cast as the cop’s daughter Kendra, described at as:

James’ once over-achieving, people-pleasing, daddy’s girl whose been radicalized by college and now has her own independence and point of view.

Sounds like a common dilemma for a lot of families.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

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