With a sneering, scenery-chewing Al Pacino and a breakout turn from Charlize Theron, The Devil’s Advocate remains a popular watch on cable. However, that successful film could have a more permanent place in the minds of TV watchers, as NBC is now developing a drama series based on the legal thriller from 1997. Arnold Kopelson (producer of the film) and The West Wing‘s John Wells are in talks to produce the series.
Like the film, The Devil’s Advocate series will focus on a rising lawyer who joins a firm run by Satan. Keanu Reeves played the public defender in Taylor Hackford’s film, while Al Pacino got to play the Devil, spouting juicy one liners about how vanity was definitely his favorite sin. The network already has a pilot ready to be filmed, written by Matt Venne (A&E’s Bag of Bones), but there is no guarantee NBC will pick it up, and there is no word on casting yet.
While seeing a TV adaptation of Hackford’s film, based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman, does not seem like much of a stretch, the Devil is not a guarantee of big TV audiences. The recent failures of NBC’s Rosemary’s Baby instantly comes to mind, while ABC’s 666 Park Avenue did not connect with viewers either. Also, is there really room for another legal drama on television?
Regardless, film to TV adaptations have seen much success in recent years, with Hannibal, Parenthood and Fargo receiving much critical admiration. If Wells and Kopelson can pick a terrific actor to don the role of the Devil in a way that rids audiences of Al Pacino’s over-the-top portrayal, this could be savoury television. Think of how Mads Mikkelsen’s serious, seductive Hannibal Lecter was a very different but improved beast from Anthony Hopkins’ showier performance.
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