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'Heathers' Reboot Delayed Following Parkland Shooting

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 2/28/2018 Lesley Goldberg
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A month after its rebranding from Spike TV, Paramount Network has its first major programming change.

The Viacom-owned cable network has opted to push its satirical reboot of 1980s cult hit Heathers from its March 7 premiere for a launch later this year. A formal date has not been determined.

The decision to push the series — and cancel its planned March 6 premiere in New York — comes as the cable network wants to be respectful to the victims and families and loved ones following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.  

"Paramount Network’s original series Heathers is a satirical comedy that takes creative risks in dealing with many of society’s most challenging subjects ranging from personal identity to race and socio-economic status to gun violence," Paramount Network said in a statement Wednesday. "While we stand firmly behind the show, in light of the recent tragic events in Florida and out of respect for the victims, their families and loved ones, we feel the right thing to do is delay the premiere until later this year."

The Parkland shooting appears to have inspired a bigger response from the media and most corners of American industry the than any of the many school attacks in the U.S. that preceded it. The outspoken survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been on TV calling for legislative action to prevent gun violence and are organizing a March 24 March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Their efforts have inspired big action, from Dicks Sporting Goods' decision to stop celling assault riles to multiple companies severing ties with the NRA.

The original film, written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann, centered on Veronica (played by Winona Ryder) and her rebel boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) and their trials and tribulations dealing with the social order in high school. The updated take, set in the present day, features a new set of popular-yet-evil Heathers — only this time the outcasts have become high school royalty. Heather McNamara (originally played by Lisanne Falk) will be portrayed by Jasmine Mathews; Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty in the film) is a male who identifies as gender-queer whose real name is Heath (Brendan Scannell); and Heather Chandler (originally Kim Walker) has a body like Martha Dumptruck and will be played by Melanie Field. Newcomers James Scully and Grace Victoria Cox star as J.D. and Veronica, respectively. Original Heathers star Doherty guest-stars in the pilot, which was directed by Leslye Headland and written by showrunner Jason Micallef.

In his review, THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg said, "Handling the place of school shootings in contemporary life within Heathers was a no-guts-no-glory proposition, but so was adapting the movie for TV in the first place." 

Heathers, originally developed for corporate sibling TV Land, was poised to be Paramount Network's second scripted original following miniseries Waco.

Heathers becomes the latest TV series that was delayed following real-world events. USA Network's Shooter, for example, was delayed twice due to deadly shootings in the U.S.

Related slideshow: TV reboots and revivals (via Photo Services)

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