As part of its burgeoning expansion plan, Paramount Television Production continues to leaf through the studio’s back catalogue in search of material to re-work. Its latest commitment is a television event series based on the 1987 Paramount film Fatal Attraction, for which Fox Broadcasting Network has commissioned a script. This collaboration comes as no surprise, since David Madden – the current president of entertainment at Fox – was previously the executive at Paramount that developed the original movie.
That movie was something of a seismic cultural event at the time of its release. Directed by Adrian Lyne (Lolita), with a script by James Dearden (Rogue Trader), the plot centred around Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) – a married man whose brief infidelity with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) ends in terror, as she begins to stalk him and his family. It was a critical and commercial success, and earned six Academy Award nominations – for Best Picture, Director, Writing, Editing, and one each for Glenn Close and Anne Archer, who played Gallagher’s wife, Beth.
Its popularity seemed to indicate that it somehow hit a timely nerve, with many expounding upon the notion that its theme of vengeance against the philandering man was in some way symbolic of women striking against a patriarchal society. Others took issue with the idea of the female lead character being psychologically troubled in stereotypical fashion – the effect of which was the coining of the derogatory term, “bunny boiler.”
The question is, will a TV event series that reflects the plot arc of the original hit a similar nerve? It’s an interesting proposition, which requires an honest examination of just how much social progress has actually been made in the past 30 years. However, it is not yet clear how faithful – as it were – this adaptation is intended to be, on a detailed level. It is being written and executive produced by Maria and Andre Jacquemetton – who performed the same function for Mad Men – and so may well take on a different tone, or a fresh angle. What we do know is that the basic premise for this Fatal Attraction television show remains unchanged – a married man’s infidelity comes back to haunt him. The ‘how’ and the ‘why’ is hopefully where the flexibility lies, but it may be prudent to lock away those pet rabbits – just in case.