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"Life on Mars" Finds Its Sam Tyler in Actor Jason O'Mara

One of the questions I get asked fairly regularly via email is what ever happened to David E. Kelley's US adaptation of Life on Mars?

Being a huge fan of the original UK Life on Mars, I was fairly underwhelmed by Kelley's script, which did little more than transport the action from 1970s Manchester... to 1970s Los Angeles and slightly Americanize the dialogue. As for the rest, it's all basically the same: Sam Tyler chases serial killer, arrests Colin Raimes, has car accident, wakes up in 1970. Oh, except, this time around Annie is a full-on female detective, rather than a WPC in a skirt.

The project was meant originally for fall consideration but when the pilot for Life on Mars--which had only cast Rachelle Lefevre (Life on a Stick) as Annie--failed to cast the ever-crucial role of series lead, it was placed on hold until an appropriate Sam Tyler could be cast.

Cut several months forward to today, where ABC has announced that it has finally managed to find its lead for Life on Mars: Jason O'Mara, whom Monarch of the Glen fans will remember as Fergal.

O'Mara--who has also appeared in Band of Brothers, Men in Trees, In Justice, and The Closer--had most recently appeared in the pilot for Marlowe (expect a review of that failed pilot next week) and has a talent deal with ABC, the network behind Life on Mars.

Life on Mars' director Thomas Schlamme feels that O'Mara is the perfect choice to play the conflicted time-traveler (or madman) Sam Tyler. "When I read the script, the bad news was that in order for the project to work, we needed an actor who could play confident yet lost, forceful yet frightened, withdrawn yet available, and uncompromising yet funny," said Schlamme. "The good news is we got Jason O'Mara."

The pilot for Life on Mars will begin production on August 14th and is said to be under consideration for midseason. I'll be trying to get my greedy mitts on the completed pilot as soon as it goes through editing, so stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer (CBS); 1 vs. 100 (NBC); WWE Friday Night SmackDown (CW; 8-10 pm); Kyle XY (ABC); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Close to Home (CBS); Las Vegas (NBC); George Lopez/George Lopez (ABC); Standoff (FOX)

10 pm: NUMB3RS (CBS); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9 pm: The Gil Mayo Mysteries on BBC America.

It's an all-new mystery series on BBC America starring Alistair McGowan (Bleak House) as Gil Mayo, a single dad and detective. On tonight's episode, Mayo and Alex bicker and the team solves a crime at Scissors Palace.


The CineManiac said…
I've only watched the first 2 or 3 episodes of the British version and can't wait to finish the first season and start on season 2.
I hope the American version will be good, but I hope they will have the smarts to keep it a limited series like the Brits have done.
Anonymous said…
I am intrigued again because I love Jason O'Mara.
Anonymous said…

Man vs. Wild started up again Friday night on the Discovery Channel.

Did you miss it?
Anonymous said…
Jason O'Mara and Rachelle Lefevre are great but I can't imagine this coming close to the original and brilliant Brit version of the show.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, but who plays the Gene Genie? That's how you know if this will stand or fall.
Anonymous said…
I'm skeptical about this. I love the original series and American remakes of British shows have been almost universal fail. I do like Kelley's original series but this project is pointless. There is a superb series already in existence with a mind-blowing cast. What else do you need? Or are they scared the American's won't understand the lingo? Will they leave in the sexism, racism and other realistic issues?
And why 1972 and not '73? Is that a lame attempt to be original?
They will also, no doubt, tame down the ending and make it all PC and snaggy. I would love to see the pilot and check out the acting. I don't know Jason O'Hara. I also don't envy him. Man has he got a tough act to follow.

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