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(Rob) Thomas Guide: Russo's "Good Behavior," Cannavale to Play "Cupid"?

I spent this weekend catching up on reading the growing stack of pilot scripts in my living room, a daunting challenge given how many scripts I still have to read but I was propelled forward by the fact that I did at least have a script written by Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) to look forward to.

The alternately hilarious and touching Good Behavior script, for Thomas' US adaptation of New Zealand series Outrageous Fortune set up at ABC, was a thing of beauty: fast-paced, quick-witted, and, well, pretty damn fun. (It's like The Riches crossed with Shameless, blended together with the bleak humor of Veronica Mars, and served straight up in a chilled martini glass.)

The plot revolves around the West family who, after their father is arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, are forced to go straight by their domineering mother. There are hints of some of the familiar themes of Veronica Mars at work there: class warfare, morality struggles, and the exploration of a city's seedy underbelly (here, greater Las Vegas). There's also a character in teenager Roxy who completely reminds me of Veronica in the best possible way, complete with her grifting ways and maturity way beyond her years.

But the very best role in Good Behavior is that of series lynchpin Jackie West, the long-suffering mater familias who is a hellion on wheels, a woman not above wielding a shotgun to deter a man threatening one of her kids or smacking some sense into them herself. This is the sort of role that people claim doesn't exist for women over 40: brave, bold, and unflinching. E!'s Watch with Kristin claims that Rene Russo is circling this role and, if I were ABC, I'd do anything and everything in my power to get Russo to sign those papers. She would kill as Jackie.

That said, I was really hoping that this was the Rob Thomas project that Kristen Bell was allegedly interested in joining, but I don't really see a role here suitable for her in Good Behavior, other than the small part of Tawny West. This is at its heart an ensemble piece and I don't see Bell taking a role that's so second banana at the moment, especially coming off of her upcoming turn in feature Forgetting Sarah Marshall or her role on Heroes.

Tawny, a bit of a slutty tearaway, would be a different type of role for Bell, who would have nailed the grittier role of Veronica-esque Roxy a few years back, but I don't know that she would want to take on another teen role after the demise of Veronica Mars. (That scene of her sauntering through the deserted halls of her high school while calmly sucking on the straw of her soft drink contained memories of our girl V, especially when she pulls out that hall pass, obtained by blackmailing the school principal.)

Which leads me to wonder if the project that will reunite Bell and Thomas is in fact ABC's Cupid. Casting is underway on the Rob Thomas-scripted remake of his 1998 series, which starred Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall; the pilot will be directed by Bharat Nalluri (Life on Mars, Spooks, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day). I could definitely see the brainy but beautiful Bell pull off the role of Dr. Claire Allen, psychiatrist and possible love interest for Trevor Hale, a man claiming to be the god of love. It would be ideal casting, in fact.

Meanwhile, sources tell me that an offer has been made to Bobby Cannavale (The Station Agent) to star in Cupid as the aforementioned Trevor. I like the genial Cannavale but I am having a hard time imagining him as the is-he-crazy-or-is-he-really-Cupid series lead here. It's a challenging role and whoever is cast will really have to work hard to distance themselves from Piven's memorable performance in the original series.

Still, I can't help but think that Cannavale and Bell would look pretty darn cute together on a poster...

UPDATED: The Hollywood Reporter has once again confirmed one of my scoops: Cannavale will star in the Cupid pilot.


Vance said…
Actually, as soon as I saw the headline, I thought OMG, Cannavale would be perfect! And with Bell? That would be an AMAZING pairing! Cannavale balances drama and comedy really well and his guest appearances on Will & Grace showed a little funny crazy (but likable) too.

but yes, I was thinking replacing Piven will be difficult.
The CineManiac said…
What happens if all 3 of Thomas' in development scripts/pilots get picked up? Will he try to run around and work on all there or just become show-runner on his favorite one?
I would *love* to see Rene Russo in a role like this. I think she could give Minnie Driver a run for her money for the most bad ass mom on TV.
TxGowan said…
Yeah, I don't really seen Cannavale in the role either. He's...too good-looking. Not "everyman" enough to be the Trevor Hale from the original. I'd see him more as the bartender friend/roommate, really.

Of course, this assumes that the new version of the show will be the same as the original in tone and characterization which I'd guess isn't really a given.
Anonymous said…
Looks like you were right again. Hollywood Reporter is now saying that Bobby Cannavale was cast a day after you reported that there was an offer out. Same thing happened with your Olivia Williams scoop. A coincidence?
Anonymous said…
Interesting item up on Fancast about Kristen Bell and the new Rob Bell project - looks like BIG scheduling problems

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