CBS has closed deals for The Rifleman, a drama project based on the 1958 Western series about a 1880s widower with a rapid-fire Winchester rifle living on a ranch with his son. Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier will write and Chris Columbus is set to direct the reboot, which, like the original, centers on Civil war hero, Lucas McCain, an unparalleled sharpshooter with a haunted past, who moves to the uncharted New Mexico territory to raise his son Mark. There, he joins forces with the Sheriff to protect his new town and become its unofficial guardian. CBS TV Studios and Carol Mendelsohn Prods. are producing. The original series, whose pilot aired on CBS as part of Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater before the series had a five-season run on ABC, was created by Sam Peckinpah and starred Chuck Connors as McCain. It was produced by Jules V. Levy, Arthur Gardner and Arnold Laven’s Levy-Gardner-Laven Prods. The only surviving member of the trio, who met while serving together in Air Force’s First Motion Picture Unit during World War II, 101-year-old Arthur Gardner, is executive producing The Rifleman reboot with his son, Steven Gardner, and Jules Levy’s son Robert. Also executive producing are Kalogridis, Lussier, Columbus, Carol Mendelsohn and her Julie Weitz. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone director Columbus has a 3-for-1 deal with CBS, under which one of 3 projects he develops though CBS TV Studios and his 1492 Pictures is assured to go to pilot, which he will direct and executive produce. This marks the seventh sale for Carol Mendelsohn Prods. in the first full development cycle since Mendelsohn brought in Weitz as president of her CBS TV Studios-based production company. The deal for The Rifleman was brokered by WME and Dan Black. This is the latest period Western put in development at the broadcast networks this season. Fox has a Wyatt Earp Western penned by John Hlavin, NBC has an untitled Kerry Ehrin project set in the 1880s, ABC has Ron Moore’s Hangtown, set in the early 1900 and David Zabel’s Gunslinger. Additionally, TNT recently gave a pilot order to Bruce C. McKenna and Danny Cannon’s Gateway, set in the 1880s, and the AMC series Hell On Wheels just premiered to strong ratings. Here is the famous opening sequence and some stills from the original Black & White Rifleman series:
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.