While TV series based on films are becoming an increasingly common part of the TV landscape, slightly more rare is the big to small screen adaptation that retains direct involvement from the principal players involved with the original property. Thus, many fans of the 2001 crime thriller Training Day found themselves encouraged by the fact that the film’s director Antoine Fuqua would be returning to direct the pilot episode of the series it spawned, and that movie co-star Ethan Hawke was in talks to reprise his role. Unfortunately, those two ties to the Training Day film are now reportedly no longer a part of the upcoming CBS series.
For those unfamiliar with the film, Training Day starred Denzel Washington as corrupt narcotics detective Alonzo Harris, a man willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish his twisted vision of justice. Along for Harris’ ride was idealistic rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Hawke), a man of principle and faith in the law. The two officers clashed repeatedly, with things ultimately leading to a deadly showdown in the streets of LA. The film was both a critical and commercial hit, earning Washington a Best Actor Oscar win and Hawke a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Fuqua has been the driving force behind bringing Training Day to TV since the beginning, and will still remain with the series in the capacity of executive producer, despite no longer serving as director of the pilot. The reason for Fuqua’s exit from the director’s chair appears to be a simple scheduling conflict, as Fuqua remains hard at work on his latest film, The Magnificent Seven. A remake of the classic 1960 western of the same name, Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven features an all-star cast, including aforementioned Training Day stars Washington and Hawke. Stepping in to helm the Training Day pilot will be Danny Cannon, who also directed the pilot episode of FOX’s Gotham.
As for Hawke, the actor was being courted to reprise the character of Jake Hoyt in the Training Day TV adaptation, who has since graduated from naive young cop to the LAPD’s deputy chief. The cause of Hawke’s exit has yet to be revealed, although it’s very possible that he just didn’t have the time in his busy film schedule to participate in what would have been a recurring part on a weekly series.
The new central conflict behind Training Day the series is a sort of racial flip of the movie’s plot, and centers on a up-and-coming black detective who is assigned to infiltrate and ultimately bring down an elite LAPD unit and its ruthless white leader. Hoyt’s deputy chief was designed to be the impetus behind this mission taking place, as presumably his experiences with Alonzo have made him adept at spotting officers who have overstepped the boundaries of their profession. With Hawke now out, the deputy chief will be rewritten as a different character, and casting for the role is apparently already underway.
While it’s hard to spin the loss of Antoine Fuqua and Ethan Hawke from their respectively important roles behind and in front of the camera as being anything but a detriment to the prospects of Training Day’s move to TV, perhaps the departures will turn out to a sort of blessing in disguise for the series from a creative standpoint. With its most direct links to the original film now gone, the door is open for Training Day the show to fully carve out its own path among the crowded field of televised crime dramas, without the shadows of Alonzo Harris and Jake Hoyt looming quite as large in the minds of viewers.
The Training Day TV series has received a pilot order, but has yet to enter production.