Green Arrow returns in new CW program


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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Quick reboots don't only happen at the movies.

This summer, just five years after the last "Spider-Man" film, the new "Amazing Spider-Man" arrived in theaters, and on Oct. 10 The CW will reboot Green Arrow just 17 months after the character was last seen on "Smallville."

The CW's "Arrow" features a new actor as the title character -- Stephen Amell ("Private Practice") takes over from Justin Hartley, who has a role in The CW's new series "Emily Owens, M.D." -- and "Arrow" producers said they were unconcerned about the short period between iterations.

"I don't think we felt any desire or need to let the ground lie fallow," said executive producer Marc Guggenheim ("Eli Stone"). "This is a different take. We certainly wanted to chart our own course and our own destiny. Justin is certainly a terrific Green Arrow but Michael Keaton as Batman doesn't affect your love for Christian Bale and Christian Bale doesn't affect your love for Adam West. ... Look at the James Bond franchise for an example."

The "Arrow" pilot episode sets up the series as Oliver Queen is discovered on a remote Pacific island five years after being presumed lost at sea. He returns home to Starling City where he takes on the persona of Green Arrow, a vigilante out to restore justice.

The Green Arrow mythology is less well known than Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, so producers feel they have more latitude to put their own stamp on the story.

"We're taking a lot of inspiration from the comic books, most specifically 'Green Arrow: Year One' and 'Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters,' but we've already taken a fair number of liberties with the characters," Mr. Guggenheim said. In the comic, both of Oliver's parents are dead; in the TV show his mother is alive. In the comic, Oliver was an only child. In "Arrow" he has a sister.

"Arrow" has a dark pilot episode with a fair amount of fights, deaths and violence.

"When Aurora happened, [the topic of violence] came up in the writer's room," Mr. Guggenheim acknowledged. "We all need to be responsible and portray violence in a responsible way. I actually think this show has an opportunity to explore the consequences of violence in a way other shows cannot. My hope and our goal is, going forward we're going to be responsible and provide, hopefully, helpful social commentary along with the action in the show."

'Partners' vs. 'Partners'

CBS has a new fall sitcom called "Partners" that's a lot like a 1995 Fox sitcom, also titled "Partners."

Beyond a title, both shows feature the same basic premise: Two best friends work together as architects and have a wacky secretary. The shows also share the same pilot story: what happens when one of the guys gets engaged; how does that relationship impact their friendship? Both pilots were directed by James Burrows ("Cheers").

The new "Partners" was "created" by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, who created "Will & Grace," a sitcom once run by Jeff Greenstein ("Desperate Housewives"), co-creator of the 1995 "Partners."

The biggest difference: In the new "Partners," one of the guys is gay. Mr. Kohan, who is straight, and Mr. Mutchnick, who is gay, emphasized that the show concept is based on their own background as friends since high school and writing partners for decades.

Mr. Kohan said initially the characters in the new "Partners" were not architects; they were writers.

"There's something about writing that's a little insular," Mr. Kohan said. "Jimmy Burrows said, I made a movie called 'Partners' and I did this [other show] so we started thinking about other titles but this is what this is."

Mr. Kohan acknowledged they knew of the earlier "Partners" -- how could they not since they worked with Mr. Greenstein -- but they saw no reason to change the title.

"Of course we knew about 'Partners' but it was just, like, an unfortunate coincidence," Mr. Mutchnick said. "We thought the title was perfect for the show."

"Is it an unfortunate coincidence that my character's name is Tate Donovan?" joked series star David Krumholtz. Mr. Donovan starred in the original "Partners."

Mr. Kohan said he "was not very familiar" with the old "Partners" and it "was not something we were even thinking about."

"He's a great writer," Mr. Mutchnick said of Mr. Greenstein. "He worked for us for many years and it was a wonderful working experience. I'm not sure why this is interesting to him. It's just such a different world, such a different world. I actually never saw 'Partners.' I know about 'Partners.' It just has been a surprise to us. This is the story of the two of us and my husband and his wife. That's the show we're doing and we hope that people like it. That's where we're coming from. If I misspoke when I said 'unfortunate coincidence,' I don't know how else to express it to you."

"It's not such an odd thing that partners would write about their partnership," Mr. Kohan said.

Amusingly, someone has created a Twitter handle for the old "Partners" (@partners_fox) that apes the Twitter handle for the new "Partners" (@partners_cbs) and points out the similarities between the two programs.

Sheen likely to stick around

FX president John Landgraf says he's confident Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" will continue to perform well enough to get renewed. No decision has been made but he seems bullish on the show's prospects, saying if/when it's renewed Martin Sheen will join the show in a recurring role, playing the father of Charlie Sheen's character.

Through a unique arrangement with the show's production company, if "Anger Management" performs at a certain ratings level, it will automatically be renewed for an additional 90 episodes. Mr. Landgraf said so far the show's ratings have exceeded that ratings level.

"I am happy creatively with the show," Mr. Landgraf said Saturday of the critically reviled "Anger Management," adding that the entry of Martin Sheen's character will give the show a multigenerational dimension.

Charlie Sheen, fidgeting throughout an "Anger Management" press conference, said he's eager for the pickup of additional episodes.

"I don't think 90s gonna be enough," he said. "I feel with how we've started we've just scratched the surface barely."

As for how he's doing post-meltdown last year, Mr. Sheen's responses sometimes would have benefited from a translator.

"It was a crazy time, and it was sort of like a dream I couldn't wake up from or some runaway train I couldn't get off of, but I was the conductor," Mr. Sheen said. 'It was something that could never happen again, so that was pretty cool. Not that anybody wants it to, including me. I learned a lot. I learned to stick to what you know. Don't go on the road with a one-man show in 33 days in 21 cities with no act. No act. Winning! So, yeah. So my life's different now that I'm not insane anymore. Pretty accountable most of the time."

Channel surfing

Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" starring Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") and Nathan Fillion ("Castle") will make its TV debut at 9 p.m. Oct. 9 on The CW. ... VH1's "Pop Up Video" returns at noon Aug. 6 to snark on new music videos. ... CBS's "Face the Nation" has been experimenting with a one-hour format and will continue to air as a one-hour show going forward on stations that already air it at that length, including KDKA-TV.

On the web

Read more coverage from the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Tuned In Journal at post-gazette.com/tv.

tvradio

A portion of this column originally appeared in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen is attending the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Follow RobOwenTV at Twitter or Facebook. You can reach him at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com.


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