David Mamet had a television home at CBS with his series The Unit before it was canceled in 2009, but now the playwright and screenwriter is heading back to the network for a new project that will be familiar to Western fans.
CBS is developing a series reboot of the 1957 classic Western drama Have Gun – Will Travel with Mamet (The Untouchables and Glengarry Glen Ross) scripting and executive producing the effort, with an eye towards directing the pilot as well. CBS TV Studios will produce the series reboot themselves, along with agent-turned-producer Elliott Webb.
The old black and white series (which saw many episodes written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry) ran from 1957 through 1963, taking its title from a catchphrase commonly seen in the personal ads of newspapers that would let people know that the person behind the ad was ready for anything that came their way. Each episode followed Richard Boone as Paladin, a Civil War veteran turned gunslinger who rode around the West looking for anyone who needed his particular set of skills, but only drew his pistols when it was absolutely necessary, preferring to settle his skirmishes without any violence.
Here’s the opening title sequence from the original 1957 series:
Certain readers will also undoubtedly remember the Have Gun – Will Travel reference that was featured in a scene of the 1986 coming-of-age film, Stand by Me:
CBS has discussed a reboot of the series before, with the story set in modern day and following rapper and occasional actor Eminem in the lead role. It’s not clear if this version also brings the action into a contemporary setting, but with Mamet writing the script and potentially directing, you can bet it will be provoking. With series like Hell on Wheels helping the Western make a comeback on TV, having a period-set drama in the dirt and dust of the Old West could go over with audiences.
Now that Dallas is popular again, and a new take on The Brady Bunch is on the way to TV with Vince Vaughn producing, we might see a resurgence of even more classic television getting the reboot treatment sometime down the road.
We’re not sure when Have Gun – Will Travel will begin production, but we’ll do our best to keep you posted as more information becomes available.