This single post receives over 50% of all the hits this blog gets. Clearly, there's a great deal of interest being stirred up these days in All Things Poseidon. Let me tell you about my piece of that.
On November 20, NBC will air a three-hour version of The Poseidon Adventure which I wrote for Larry Levinson Productions. That's a Sunday night air-date, by the way, which puts it up against Desperate Housewives -- oh, well...
In some parts of the world, notably Australia, a four-hour version has already aired (October 9). Some of the Australian fans loved it, some of them didn't, and the vast majority of viewers, of course, don't post comments on the Internet so there's no real way of knowing how they feel. What I can say definitively is that the American viewers will not see the version that the Australian viewers did. The NBC version is a cut-down of the full mini-series so that it can air in a single evening, rather than being spread across two nights.
Both versions have their share of authentic emotional moments from people who think they're going to die and want to get right with their lives, some real dialogue on the subject of terrorism from people living through it, a sense of what's going on outside the Poseidon to effect a rescue and, of course, classic original characters mixed with some new ones to keep it fresh. NBC's version will only get better as the fat is trimmed, the effects are polished and the picture quality brought to life.
Coming to NBC November 20, 2005
For those of you over forty, you probably remember the original The Poseidon Adventure from 1972. The one where the whiny, but memorable, Shelly Winters claims to have been a high school swimmer and tries to save the day. If you don't remember, it's about a cruise ship that capsizes and a few people climb their way out, against the odds, to survive. Either way, the story's back and a whole new intrepid band is going to have to get wet...
Fans, being fans, will no doubt be mixed between those who think any other version than the original feature will be lousy and those who can't wait to see a new take for today's audiences. All I know is I wouldn't have taken the assignment if I didn't think we could do a version that would stand on its own, and I think we have done just that. Here's an early preview clip.
The producers had the rights to the original book written by Paul Gallico, and I've added a lot of different characters and plot-lines, notably the real-life fear of terrorists targeting a cruise ship. Before the ship goes belly-up, though, there's some inevitable character set-up to spin the players in motion before disaster strikes. As an example, here's a sneak-peek snapshot from from the set, taken by director John Putch showing Steve Guttenberg, playing a failing novelist whose career is dwarfed by his CEO wife's, contemplating an affair with a massage therapist (Nathalie Boltt) on board the ship.
"I'm so misunderstood."
To recap: NBC will first air our The Poseidon Adventure as a three-hour "special event" during sweeps. Shortly after, the Hallmark Channel will air it as a two night four-hour mini-series. This version will be substantially the same as the one currently being shown around the world.
Besides Guttenberg, the cast includes Adam Baldwin, Bryan Brown, Peter Weller (playing Captain Gallico), Alexa Hamilton and Rutger Hauer, among others. Adam Baldwin's simmering performance as a Homeland Security sea marshall stands out for me. I also really enjoyed Bryan Brown as a reality TV producer, a la Mark Burnett, who I've named Jeffrey Eric Anderson in tribute to three successful reality TV friends I worked with at "Eye on LA" a while back -- Jeff Androsky, Eric Schotz and Mack Anderson.
Putch has definitely delivered on one promise to producers Larry Levinson, Dan Gross and Steve Squillante -- there's definitely more water in this one than the original. Prepare to get wet.
One of the ironies of doing this project was that I started writing it during Christmas of 2003 and it shot during the fall of 2004 and nobody knew -- it flew compeltely below radar. After our film was shot and in the can, Warners announced that it was going to do a big-budget feature version directed by Wolfgang Petersen, which won't even be out until the spring of 2006. But suddenly everybody was talking about that project before they had a script even though we already had a finished film. Talk about congnitive dissonance. Then NBC bought the mini-series from Larry Levinson Productions and the news hook became the dueling Poseidons. I was on the Warner Brothers lot for a TV pilot pitch and the whole place is alive with Petersen's production. My head spins!
It's unfortunate that there's this Battle of the Poseidons going on, I suppose, but the world's probably big enough for both of us to do well in our own particular formats. The original has connected with audiences for decades and still does and the re-make is bound to be a handsome piece of filmmaking in Petersen's hands. People ask me how this whole situation feels and all I can say is, pardon the pun, "come on in, the water's fine."
For more on all things Poseidon, you may want to check out Kevin Sandoval's Poseidon Adventure Fan Site. And thanks to Kevin for steering so many of you over here and I hope you'll give the mini-series a chance in November. Also, a shout-out to Jak Castro and his Poseidon Adventure Fan Club for doing the same. To this many people united in a celebration of disaster is a cultural phenom that I'll let others analyze but thanks for welcoming me aboard.
The perceptual challenge for the mini-series now is simple. We can't be first. That honor goes to the 1972 version. We can't be the most production intensive. That honor goes to Poseidon (the feature due out in May 2006) which will spend ten times as much money making half as much film. All we can be is respectful and do the best we can. The Poseidon Adventure -- as you will see it on NBC on November 20 -- is not perfect nor is every choice the exact choice that every fan would make given their own creative independence. In actual fact, I would have made different choices in key areas, too. But this production was still done with great respect to the original book, the 1972 feature and, especially, to the legions of fans worldwide who care about this material. It's another expression, that's all. Nobody needs to prove their loyalty to Ernest Borgenine playing Mike Rogo, for example, by hating Adam Baldwin in the same role. His is a different interpretation but very, very good.
The bottom line for me is this. It's possible to like multiple iterations on a creative concept. I like Smallville as much as I liked Lois & Clark. One does not negate the other. Over the years, for example, Superman has been played by Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, John Newton, Gerard Christpher, Dean Cain, Tom Wellig and now Brandon Routh.
If you love The Poseidon Adventure, please give this new version the chance to exist in its own creative space because it aims to take nothing away from the original, or what's to come.
The simple truth is that the TV version is twice as much film produced for a fraction of the budget and, yet, I think it's pretty damn good. Besides being first to be produced in the revival sweepstakes, it really does have a compelling story with some suprising plot twists, especially in the finale.
You'll be able to see for yourself on NBC. The one certainty: they wouldn't have bought it in the first place if they didn't think they could turn it into a Big Event. I don't even know if they talk about "Must-See TV" over at the Peacock network anymore, but I'm thinking that this is it.
As I've said, so many Poseidon fans from around the world are visiting this blog, it's hard-to-believe. If you've got time to stay a little longer past a "hit and run" here, let me recommend a few other ways to enjoy what this blog can offer.
- Today's Post: I try to update with fresh material on a daily basis.
- Classic Post: Here's one about the continuing mystery in the death of Marilyn Monroe.
- Personal Story: How about getting fired as a teenager on the same day that man first walked on the moon?
- A Whole New Way of Doing Film Reviews: That's "Movie Smackdown" -- a blog that compares films in the theater now with similar films out on DVD.
- Or, how about a celebrity photo album with pictures taken while I was chairman of the TV Academy? See Jon Stewart, Erick McCormack, Ellen Degeneres, Jane Kaczmarek, Bradley Whitford, Michael Chiklis...
However long you stay at "News! -- Views! -- & Schmooze!" I do want to thank you for dropping by.