Josh Lucas in 'The Firm': Thankless task or golden opportunity?

Josh-Lucas

Image Credit: Chris Hatcher/PR Photos

Though there’s no established rules, movies typically get translated into television shows, and vice versa, in one of two ways. A movie becomes a hit, like M*A*S*H, and the studio arranges to bring those characters to the small screen quickly thereafter. Or, a classic television show, like The Fugitive, is relaunched as a movie decades later for a new generation of fans. Rarely do you see what NBC is currently attempting: resurrecting a movie, The Firm, as a television series — 18 years after the Tom Cruise hit. Yes, In the Heat of the Night successfully pulled off a similar trick — 21 years after the original film — but typically, networks aren’t looking that far in the past for their next hit show.

That said, there’s some hope for NBC’s mid-season replacement. One, they have the John Grisham fanbase that bought 7 million copies of The Firm, a fanbase that, no disrespect to Cruise and director Sydney Pollack, rather preferred the book to the film. Two, they have a handsome, likable movie star willing to step in Cruise’s shoes: Josh Lucas. The 39-year-old Arkansan is as suited for attorney Mitchell McDeere’s skin as the more-intense Cruise ever was, and the idea of him picking up the story 10 years after the events of the film has merit. People may always identify Cruise with the character, but it’s not like Lucas is resurrecting Top Gun‘s Maverick or Jerry Maguire. After a few well-written episodes, Lucas can put his own stamp on the character, just as Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alan Alda did on Buffy and M*A*S*H, respectively.

Why do you think networks don’t look to older movies more often when they’re ordering pilots? Does Tom Cruise’s Firm cast such an imposing shadow to threaten NBC’s series, or do you think that Lucas can very quickly make the role his own? What TV versions of characters, in addition to Gellar and Alda, equaled or surpassed the original cinematic portrayals? (Can I get some love for Robert Hays’ alien in TV’s Starman?)

Read more:
NBC in talks for John Grisham’s ‘The Firm’ TV series

Comments (16 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    Well, there’s also “Parenthood”, which came out in ’89 and has turned out to be a pretty great TV show for NBC.

    Anyway, I think coming to TV is a really good move for Lucas. I think he’s talented, but never really took off as a top-flight movie star. Headlining his own TV show could be just what he needs, and I think he’s a great fit for the role. I just hope NBC doesn’t screw it up.

  • Wendel

    This sounds more interesting than a lot of the announced Fall TV fare. I’d watch JL in anything anyway.

  • Allison

    Wow, how cool! Josh every week!

  • Obvious Man Says

    I think Josh Lucas is a better fit as Mitc McDeere than Tom Cruise was…but the point of the Firm was he was a recent law school grad hired by a powerful firm with connections to the mafia. And by the end of the book he was sailing to the Bahamas and the end of the film he had been able to leave the firm unscathed, so having said that….won’t this just be another legal drama? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • Soup

      thanks for summing up the ending. I couldn’t remember it and I read the book and watched the movie…a long time ago. He had a wife and little girl in the movie didn’t he?

      • Obvious Man Says

        He had a wife, no daughter though, at least I think no daughter. Jeanne Tripplehorn played the wife in the film.

  • Mincha

    I don’t think they have that much to worry about. The Firm wasn’t exactly Titanic or Independence Day. I could tell you the basic plot, but that’s mostly from what I remember about the book. Josh Lucas might be more believable as Mitch McDeere than Tom Cruise was. They have a shot at making this series work–but they’re NBC, so I wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Di

      I don’t know if I agree that Josh Lucas is more believable than Tom Cruise. IIRC Mitch was recruited because he was insanely driven in every aspect of his life-and that’s what the mafia was looking for.

  • MWeyer

    So does this adapt the novel/film? Because I’ve heard it’s actually set years afterward, Mitch moving on with his life but past comes back to haunt him. An adaptation would be challenging as everyone knows the story, hard to work in the same thrills.

  • Leanne

    The book was fantastic. The casting in the film (in my opinion) was not that great for most of the supporting cast. They also changed the movie ending and key parts (going to the bahamas and stealing the paperwork…wife went in movie not in book) that made the movie plot weaker. Hopefully the TV show pulls from the book ending…wouldn’t it be a kick if Mitch ended up being a lawyer for the mob…..and ran a new firm??

  • Flyer

    I haven’t seen “The Firm,” so I’ll be coming to this fresh – and I like Josh Lucas, so I’m looking forward to seeing him on the small screen. I’d nominate Tony Randall & Jack Klugmann on TV’s “The Odd Couple” as actually surpassing the very talented Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau from the original movie cast. And yes, Jeff, you can definitely get some love from me for Robert Hays in the TV version of “Starman.” I really liked Hays’ portrayal of Starman-as-dad.

  • JBC in L.A.

    The Firm sucked so bad as a movie. The book was so great. I started it on a Friday night and read the first third of the book. I picked it up the next night and couldn’t put it down. Finished it at 4 am early Sunday. The movie had a great cast and they blew it in every way possible. It was nothing like the book. After the movie was over, a guy sitting a couple rows ahead of me got up and proclaimed “that sucked, was nothing like the book” How can you make a TV series of a book that spanned a short amount of time? Characters that were prominent in the book died. This looks like another failed attempt at no originality.

  • Lard

    I’d say it would only be a worthwhile part if he get’s to spoon feed Wilford Brimley a mountain of oatmeal.

  • Janice

    Josh Lucas is a very talented actor and verrry easy on the eyes! It will be interesting to see what he does with the role.

  • Maddy Fan

    “What TV versions of characters (…) equaled or surpassed the original cinematic portrayals?”

    Right now, I can think of Alberta Watson’s “Madeline” on “La Femme Nikita” series (90′s -2001). She created an iconic character, the interrogation expert and psych profiler Madeline, “calmly subverting the more womanly and ladylike role of Amanda -played by Jeanne Moreau and Anne Bancroft in the French and US films, respectively) “, as a critic has said.
    Yes, of course, I’m her superfan! LOL I run her fan-based YouTube channel –10 years later the series it’s over, fans still make fanvids about Madeline, each week :)

  • social exposure

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