The long-discussed NBC drama pilot, Cruel Intentions, is now set to move ahead with Sarah Michelle Gellar confirmed for the cast. The actress will reportedly reprise the role she played in the 1999 film upon which the pilot is based, and which itself was based on Les Liaisons dangereuses, written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782.
The film saw Gellar play Kathryn Merteuil – the manipulative, wealthy and influential prep school student who engages in plots and conspiracies to ruin the lives of others. Her efforts eventually involve her step-brother, Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe), when she persuades him to seduce her love rival (Selma Blair) in order to get revenge.
Sebastian – himself a manipulative personality – is already engaged in his own plot to de-flower and humiliate the Headmaster’s daughter, Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon), but both plans are de-railed when he falls in love with Annette. This angers Kathryn, who escalates her manipulations such that Sebastian is killed – but she is ultimately undone by the fact that Sebastian and Annette have distributed her personal journal, detailing her crimes.
The pilot picks up the story in the present day, finding Kathryn (Gellar) somewhat shaken by the arrival of Bash Casey (played by Taylor John Smith) – who is the son of Sebastian and Annette, conceived during the movie. Kathryn is still engaging in complex manipulations, mostly aimed at taking control of the family business – Valmont International. The investigations of Bash Casey into his dead father’s life inevitably lead to his uncovering the seductive world of wealth and influence he once enjoyed, and threatens the position and status of Kathryn. Samantha Logan (666 Park Avenue) and Sophina Brown (Numb3rs) also star.
The Cruel Intentions pilot is co-written by Roger Kumble – the writer and director of the 1999 film – along with Lindsey Rosin (South Of Nowhere) and Jordan Ross (Never Fade Away). Rosin and Ross are the writers of the well-received stage production The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of Cruel Intentions, and will co-executive produce the pilot, with Kumble, and film producer Neal H. Moritz. This all gives Cruel Intentions an impressive pedigree, which will hopefully lead to big things for this project, provided it doesn’t get lost among the current wave of film-to-TV translations, that includes Limitless and Lethal Weapon.