Gangster Squad director Ruben Fleisher continues to play down speculation about a sequel to his breakout hit Zombieland happening, but it appears as though a TV spinoff might be in the cards after all.
Reports about a Zombieland TV show - from screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick - surfaced back in Fall 2011, but the lack of updates since then pointed to the idea either being scrapped or stalled in development. That changed this week, as CBS is reported to have sent out casting calls for the pilot (note: previously, Fox was said to be working with Sony on the series).
io9 claims to have read through the script pages that are being used for casting purposes, meaning they may or may not reflect what to expect in the actual pilot (with regards to story beats and characters). Nonetheless, they offer an intriguing early look at how the Zombieland TV show may go above re-inventing the original movie's characters, seeing how cast members Woody Harrelson (as Tallahassee), Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), Emma Stone (Wichita) and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) are pretty much guaranteed not to be reprising their roles.
[NOTE: The following may contain MILD SPOILERS.]
Here's the site's rundown of the Zombieland characters, as presented in the TV show pilot:
Tallahassee is still kind of a snarky weirdo, but he seems to have a much less spiky relationship with Columbus. He and Columbus have a pretty amusing thing where they riff on the fact that Steven Seagal movies always have three-word titles like "Marked for Justice" or "May Cause Diarrhea." But Tallahassee also dispenses homespun wisdom about how to feel happy with your life. He also tells a weird story about being in a trailer park with a perpetually nude Matthew McConaughey. He also has a somewhat heartwarming scene where he tells Columbus that he's been wandering aimlessly for a long time, but maybe he's been put here for a reason — to help Columbus and the others.
Columbus is much the same, except that he tracks down his grandma and grandpa (Bubbie and Peepaw) only to find them recently zombiefied. Also, Columbus is trying to deal with his newfound relationship with Wichita, after their first kiss. He has started calling her "Krista," her real name — but there are some problems, especially after she finds him reading a book about fatherhood. He tries to organize a romantic scavenger hunt for her in the IKEA they're camping out in, but it goes kind of horribly.
Wichita is still trying to look after Little Rock, trying to teach her math with problems about someone stealing from a liquor store and jumping on a train going 42 miles per hour, with a cop chasing in a car going 88 miles per hour. We also learn a lot more about Wichita's backstory, including how she ran away from her father after he had her stealing people's Christmas presents — and later, she found out she had a sister who was also being a grifter with her dad.
Little Rock seems actually kind of excited about meeting Columbus' grandparents, before they turn out to be zombies. And she shares some of her own backstory, about how her dad parked her at a school while he went off grifting on his own — and then yanked her out of school right before a dance that she was looking forward to.
There are a handful of supporting character roles being planned, but the gist is that CBS' Zombieland TV show will revolve around the bond and family dynamic formed between Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita/Krista and Little Rock by the conclusion of Fleischer's movie. It sounds as though Reese and Wernick are (basically) following their original blue-prints for a half-hour comedy series about modern life issues, as explored through the fantastical zombpocalypse backdrop.
CBS ordered, then rejected, their initial pilot script based on the concept in 2005. Of course, since the duo turned around and transformed the project into a movie - one that grossed $102 million in theaters worldwide (on a $24 million budget) and has since gained cult status - network heads have good reason to consider giving their idea another shot.
We'll keep you posted on the Zombieland TV show.