Is George Clooney the new Buck Rogers? He just jumped aboard a Rogers revival as an exec producer. Now it seems only a matter of time before he snaps up the starring role.
The classic pulp character is blasting off in the 21st century, care of Angry Films’ Don Murphy and Susan Montford, co-producer Flint Dille and Smokehouse Pictures.
Dille is the grandson of Philip Francis Nowlan, who brought Rogers to life in 1928. Smokehouse Pictures is Clooney’s outfit, which he runs alongside regular collaborator Grant Heslov. Entertainment titan Legendary are in overall charge.
Written by Brian K Vaughan, the project will be “a prestige limited series”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Award winner Vaughan is known as a comic book writer, a medium where Rogers found his wings. He also worked as showrunner on Stephen King adaptation ‘Under The Dome’.
The Reporter writes Buck Rogers is “a potential starring vehicle” for Clooney. The character is described as a war veteran – at 59 the seasoned star might fit the bill perfectly.
He’s certainly no stranger to cosmic exploits. ‘Solaris’ (2002), ‘Gravity’ (2013) and most recently Netflix’s ‘The Midnight Sky’ are all space bound entries on his sizeable resume.
Who is Buck Rogers? The definitive man out of time, he originally got buried during a late 1920s cave in. Enveloped by radioactive gas, soldier Rogers “falls into suspended animation and Rip Van Winkle-style wakes up almost 500 years into the future” according to THR.
The battle-hardened action hero then finds himself caught up in a war. Nowlan created Rogers for novella ‘Armageddon 2419 AD’, said to be the source material for Vaughan’s new script.
Rogers went from pulp fiction to comic strip and then to the airwaves. Radio, TV and movies embraced the American icon.
Nowlan’s adventurer is arguably most famous from 2 productions. First, the 1939 movie serial starring Buster Crabbe. Its rickety special effects and old school charm make it a favorite today.
Then in 1979 a feature film and 2 seasons of a TV series were made. Gil Gerard took the lead in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’, with Erin Gray as daring pilot Col Wilma Deering.
Glen A. Larson developed the revived concept with ‘The Outer Limits’ creator Leslie Stevens. Larson also came up with ‘Battlestar Galactica’.
Here the character hailed from 1987, before being flung even further into the future. The title sequence famously featured Rogers spinning in time as narrator William Conrad filled audiences in on his story.
‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’ is still popular in the 21st. As The Guardian writes, it’s “part of a boom in nostalgia-fuelled streaming during the pandemic.”
Other less successful attempts to launch Buck Rogers include an ABC series starring no less than 3 actors! Earl Hammond, Kem Dibbs and Robert Pastene popped up over 36 episodes. Wilma Deering was partly played by future Hitchcock star Eva Marie Saint.
Comic book legend and moviemaker Frank Miller (‘Sin City’) planned a movie adaptation a decade ago. That fell through when his film ‘The Spirit’ underperformed at the box office.
Buck Rogers has been around so long his copyright is a source of debate. Before Murphy got the new series off the ground, he went to court against the Dille Family Trust over an ‘Armageddon 2419 AD’ movie he was making. Late last year the issue was resolved behind the scenes, leaving the path clear for Clooney and co.
Should the limited series be a hit, there are plans to produce a movie and anime based on Buck’s exploits.
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