Honey West, the 1960s TV series that aired for one season on ABC, is the next property Hollywood is dusting off for possible transfer to the big screen. The show, which starred Anne Francis as one of the first truly liberated female action heroes, lasted for only 30 episodes between 1965-1966, but has spawned a loyal following over the decades. There was even a Honey West action figure from A.C. Gilbert toy company that is now a valued collector's item. Adapting beloved TV series to the big screen has been an imprecise science, to put it mildly. For every Addams Family there has been a Car 54, Where Are You? Particularly vulnerable have been attempts to bring spy series to the big screen, as evidenced by such disdained bombs as The Wild, Wild West and I Spy. Even the feature film versions of Mission: Impossible,
which have been box-office hits, have been criticized for abandoning
virtually every aspect of the TV series except the title and theme song.
Died Another Day: Plans to give Bond girl Halle Berry her own series as Jinx never materialized. Can an actress successfully top-line an action film franchise?
There may be some hope for the Honey West project, however. New
York Post columnist Liz Smith reports that the prospective film is
the brainchild of screenwriter Leslie Dixon, who wrote the hilarious Mrs. Doubtfire and actually improved upon the original Thomas Crown Affair for Pierce Brosnan's 1999 remake. He is currently winning raves for the newly-released Hairspray. According
to Smith, Dixon's plan is to keep the project as a retro piece set in
the 1960s. This is good news as it would at least provide for some
creative production designs that would transport back to the days of
spy mania. Additionally, Smith reports that Oscar winner Reese
Witherspoon is said to be contemplating playing the title role.
Witherspoon would seem to be appropriate casting, but the odds are
stacked against Honey West succeeding as a franchise.
Traditionally, audiences tend to be non-responsive to action films
top-lined by actresses. Numerous attempts to pitch Sharon Stone as an
action star went nowhere, and we're betting we won't be seeing any
sequels to Kathleen Turner's 1991 opus V.A. Warshawski, Detective in High Heels anytime soon. Similary,
Eon Productions' plans to launch a series of films based on the
character of Jinx played by Halle Berry in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day were shelved when MGM balked at the last minute. Berry subsequently flopped starring in another prospective franchise series, Catwoman.
The sad truth is that in today's Hollywood, there are no actresses who can be counted on to "open" a film at the box-office. In fact, there are precious few male stars who can do so. There has never been a time when the industry has seemed so lacking in glamour or interesting personalities. Thus, we have a bizarre situation in which the most reliable "stars" may prove to be dancing penguins and Homer Simpson- Lee Pfeiffer
UPDATE: Astute reader and Cinema Retro subscriber, author Wesley Britton informs us that in 2003, Miramax announced they would bring Honey West to the big screen starring Reese Witherspoon as soon as she completed filming Legally Blonde. Those plans obviously never came to fruition and it isn't known whether Miramax is still involved in the project.
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