Considering the way every network is going mad for westerns at the moment, it was only a matter of time before some of the more iconic programs from yesteryear fell under consideration for the entertainment industry’s favorite pastime: reboots. Now word is that famed director Chris Columbus will be making a rare venture to the small screen to help bring the 1950s series The Rifleman back to life.
As part of Columbus’ recent development deal with CBS Studios, The Rifleman will see the Harry Potter director teaming with Carol Mendelsohn (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) on the proposed reboot, as executive producer and director of the pilot episode. Also joining the project will be writers Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Bionic Woman) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry).
Originally airing as a half-hour program on ABC from 1958-1963, The Rifleman centered on Civil War hero Lucas McCain, who, with his specially modified Winchester rifle, has become a marksman of some renown. After the war, McCain relocated to a ranch in North Fork, New Mexico, to raise his young son Mark. Once there, the sharpshooter is compelled to put his unique talents to use once more, as he joins forces with the local sheriff to keep the peace in his new town.
What, precisely, will be the new take on the series is unclear, but expect some updates to make this classic western more palatable for modern audiences.
Given the well-known talent attached, and the name recognition, The Rifleman stands a good chance of attracting the kind of attention CBS is certainly hoping for. How it will fare amongst the onslaught of others in the genre remains to be seen, however.
Right now, it appears interest in the old west is high, after the premiere of AMC’s Hell on Wheels brought in an impressive 4.4 million viewers on Sunday night. Those numbers easily show why TNT is working on Gateway with Keith Carradine (Dexter), while ABC readies Ronald D. Moore’s Hangtown, and NBC sets to work on The Frontier.
For Columbus, branching out into the world of television marks another turn in his long career –starting with his work on films like Gremlins and The Goonies, and then coming into prominence after directing box office juggernauts like Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire and, of course, the first two Harry Potter films. Columbus now finds himself in the same company as famed, and often controversial director Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch), who actually created The Rifleman and served as a writer on the series before turning toward more provocative (and violent) filmmaking projects.
Given the work Columbus has done in the past, it will be interesting to see what approach the director takes with the pilot. As The Rifleman will be airing on CBS, it’s likely that, tonally speaking, the series will bare little resemblance to the later work of Peckinpah – or that of Hell on Wheels, for that matter.
Look for Screen Rant to bring you more news on The Rifleman, as it becomes available.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter