The 1970s martial arts western series Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, is getting a remake at Fox with a female lead. Executive produced by Greg Berlanti, the series has been given a put-pilot order. A put-pilot is a pilot that a network has agreed to air. If the episode doesn't air, the network will have to pay a substantial fee. The purpose of a put-pilot order is to guarantee the pilot will be picked up.
Created by Ed Spielman, Kung Fu ran for three seasons on ABC from 1972 to 1975 and became a hit with audiences. Kung Fu is recognized today as one of the most successful shows of the early 1970s. Carradine starred in the lead role as Kwai Chang Caine, a Shaolin monk who loved peace but was also a master of martial arts. The show followed Caine's journey through the Old West in America during the 1880s. The show not only elevated Carradine to stardom, but also popularized martial arts and Eastern philosophy in Western culture. The show's success led to two movies and a spin-off series.
Deadline reports that Fox has ordered a pilot for the remake, with Greg Berlanti as executive producer. Berlanti is also the executive producer of a number of successful shows, including Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Blindspot, and Riverdale. Arrow writer and producer Wendy Mericle will pen the script.
The setting for the new version of Kung Fu will be the 1950s, rather than the Old West, but will still be set in America. The new version of the series will feature a female lead named Lucy Chang. Like Carradine's character, Lucy is a Buddhist monk "armed only with her spiritual training and her martial arts skills."
As Caine was on a quest to find his half-brother, Lucy will have a challenge of her own to deal with. Lucy will be looking for a man who stole her child several years ago. To find the child, Lucy will team up with JT Cullen, described as a "charming Korean War vet with his own secrets." The unlikely alliance formed between the two will also allow Lucy to come to the aid of people in need.
It is currently unclear if there will be any family connection between Lucy and Caine, who both share the name "Chang."
It's assumed that Lucy will be played by an Asian American actress, while Caine was played by a white actor, Carradine, even though Caine was half-Chinese. The casting of Carradine created controversy, decades before the current ongoing discussion of whitewashing in Hollywood.