Get Shorty, the 1995 movie adapted from Elmore Leonard’s 1990 novel of the same name, was one of the best Hollywood comedies of the ’90s, featuring a dynamite cast acting at the peak of their abilities. There was John Travolta as gangster-turned-movie producer Chili Palmer, Gene Hackman as also-ran shlock movie producer Harry Zim, Danny DeVito as diminutive movie superstar Martin Weir and Rene Russo as scream queen actress Karen Flores. The cast also included the late James Gandolfini, Delroy Lindo and the late Dennis Farina.
The film, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, was the rare studio comedy that got just about everything right. A TV adaptation has been in development for EPIX, and now we know who’s going to be starring in it.
Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano are in line to star in the Get Shorty TV series, with O’Dowd “finalizing a deal” and Romano “in negotiations,” according to Deadline. Davey Holmes, long a writer and executive producer for Showtime’s Shameless, is the showrunner; there’s no involvement from Sonnenfeld or anyone else who was on the creative team of the movie.
Deadline reports that, while the character names have been changed, O’Dowd is playing the Travolta part, a middleman with a Nevada crime syndicate who transitions to a career as a movie producer; Romano will play the shlock producer, taking over the role played by his Welcome to Mooseport co-star, Gene Hackman.
It sounds as though Get Shorty is taking the Fargo route — adapting the style, tone and many thematic elements of its mid-‘90s source material, without functioning as a direct sequel or remake. Will it work? It could. It’s a very fertile idea with a ton of potential for different storylines, and the “gangster in Hollywood” theme is something that’s timeless and not in any way stuck in the 1990s. The casting is also off to a fine start, including Romano, who’s had a very fascinating post-Everybody Loves Raymond career. He starred on the above-average cable drama Men of a Certain Age, knocked it out of the park in a smallish supporting role in the later seasons of Parenthood, and was one of the better parts of HBO’s one-and-done bomb Vinyl.
Then again, the TV version of Fargo is something of a miracle that can’t easily be replicated, and Get Shorty previously spawned an atrocious sequel, Be Cool, in 2005. Additionally, EPIX doesn’t exactly have a strong track record with original programming.
Get Shorty is scheduled to debut on EPIX in the summer of 2017.