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Although there’s been no public movement in months on FX’s planned adaptation of Powers, the network’s president insists the project is “still alive,” and in the hands of a new writer, crime novelist and occasional comics scribe Charlie Huston.
Based on the well-regarded comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, Powers was greenlit in February 2011, with the cable network quickly assembling a cast that included Jason Patric, Lucy Punch and Charles S. Dutton, all under seasoned showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee. But after watching the completed pilot, network executives asked that Powers be retooled, leaving the show in limbo while FX decided whether to move forward with reshoots.
“We’ve been through so many incarnations,” FX’s John Landgraf told IGN TV this week at the Television Critics Association’s winter tour. “After we made the pilot, we actually developed three more [episode] scripts. So then we had a pilot plus three scripts, and we decided between the pilot and the scripts that it wasn’t quite the series that we needed it to be. When I say we, by the way, Brian Bendis is involved in every phase of this conversation and discussion. But one of the scripts was written by this guy named Charlie Huston, and he was a novelist. Both I and Brian and others thought, ‘Wow, there is actually something in the tone of this.’ So Charlie was approached, I think by Brian, and said, ‘Look, would you be interested in taking on Powers?’ And Charlie said, ‘Well, I’ve never actually adapted anything before in my life. I have only written novels and stuff of my own, but Powers is my favorite graphic novel, and yes!'”
As a result, “we reconstituted the whole thing around Charlie as the creator, with Brian,” Landgraf said. “Charlie went up to Seattle, and they sat down and they talked, and read through all the books, and they came back with a new vision, basically. Essentially, a new pilot to begin with, which is a new, different story than the pilot that we shot. So that pilot is officially gone and dead, and the actors are all gone, but we’re developing a whole new pilot from scratch.”
The network will decide within the next few months whether to produce a second pilot. Landgraf, who once said Powers could reinvent the superhero genre on television, remains devoted to that goal, saying, “Television adaptations of graphic novels, for the most part, have been the pretty good food you’ll take when really good food isn’t available, you know what I mean? For me, I’m not going to take second fiddle to Marvel or anybody. I’m not going to be able to make a $200 million negative, and I think that Marvel has done a great job at what they do, and they’ve created a template that really works, so I’m not going to imitate that. I want to make something else with Brian and Charlie and others that’s just as good but different, and trades on the particular strengths that television has in terms of what it can do. And if we can get Powers to that level, I’ll make another pilot, and I’ll put it on the air. But I’m not going to put anything less than an absolutely great version of Powers on the air. That’s like remaking a great film into a good film, and I don’t want to do that.”