‘Prisoner’ remake ready to roll


Television news briefs

‘Prisoner’ remake ready to roll

Get ready to meet the new Number 2. And Number 6, for that matter.

British satellite channel Sky One is embarking on a remake of the cult-classic show “The Prisoner.” The new series, slated to run for six episodes, would likely premiere sometime next year, 40 years after the original debuted on ITV. Rumors of a new series have been percolating for some time, but Sky One didn’t greenlight the project until this week.

Several reports in the British press say Christopher Eccleston – who starred in a revival of another cult favorite, “Doctor Who” – is in line to play Number 6. Eccleston left “Doctor Who,” which premiered on the BBC and airs on the Sci Fi Channel in this country, after one season and was replaced by David Tennant (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”).

The remake of “The Prisoner” will stick to the original’s outline, in which a government agent resigns his post and then is drugged and dragged off to a mysterious prison called The Village, where people are referred to by numbers rather than names. It’s expected to get a modern sheen, though.

“‘The Prisoner’ is like Pandora’s box – it’s the ultimate conspiracy thriller,” executive producer Damien Timmer tells the BBC. “Like “24,’ the new series will entrap you from the opening scene. We hope it will tap into this iconic show’s existing cult following, whilst creating a whole new generation of fans.”

Bill Gallagher, writer of the BAFTA Award-nominated series “Conviction” and “Clocking Off,” will pen the scripts for the new “Prisoner.”

Abrams approves of ‘Alias,’ ‘Lost’ finales

As J.J. Abrams says hello to a movie career, he’s saying goodbye to the spy series “Alias” and one more perplexing season of “Lost.”

In an interview to promote his film “Mission: Impossible III,” the writer-director-producer weighs in on the finales for two shows he created that have won rabid fans since their premiere episodes. In the case of “Alias,” Abrams is sorry but prepared to see the series end.

“This is something we have been anticipating for a while. I think it’s the right time to end the series,” he says. “It’s definitely bittersweet for a lot of obvious reasons. It’s an incredible cast and crew so we’ll miss them but I hope to work with all of them again soon.”

As his fans know, this is no empty promise. From his late “90s WB college drama “Felicity,” Abrams took supporting actress Jennifer Garner and made her the lead in “Alias” and cast Keri Russell, who played the series’ title character, for his film.

The actor who’s appeared the most often since his “Felicity” days, however, is Greg Grunberg, who’s made stops on “Alias,” “Lost,” “M:i:III” and will probably have a space reserved for him on all of Abrams’ future projects.

“Only as long as I’m directing,” jokes Abrams. “No, I’m kidding. Greg, who’s my oldest friend since kindergarten, is someone who – I love working with Greg. He’s my good luck charm.”

“But in terms of the end of the year, it’s actually a really good finale,” he continues about “Alias.” “I think it’s incredibly satisfying. It connects all these pieces that have been in the “Alias’ universe from the beginning and I’m really proud of the work that Jeff Pinkner, Drew Goddard and the other amazing writers in the show have done, not just this year but building up to the finale which I think is going to be a really, really powerful and exciting ending.”

So, here’s hoping that pseudo-Sydney will get her comeuppance, that Nadia (Mia Maestro) is among the living despite the glass sticking out of her neck and that Sark (David Anders) will get away to wreak havoc another day.

Now in the case of “Lost,” closure isn’t expected at all. Instead, this cryptic, circuitous show promises to have one doozy of a cliffhanger finale for the season.

“I can tell you that Damon Lindelof has done just that,” says Abrams. “The ending of this year in “Lost’ blows the ending of last season out of the water. It’s an incredible finale.”

Well, action-wise anything will be more exciting than the castaways looking down The Hatch, which is how the first season concluded. This time around, there’s twice as many players, including the “tailees” and The Others, and some really messed up stuff afoot, the most recent being Michael’s (Harold Perrineau) return from who knows where wielding a gun and shooting real-life drunk drivers Libby and Ana-Lucia (Cynthia Watros, Michelle Rodriguez).

“You’ll see what happens but I can tell you that a lot of it has been there and been building from the beginning of this season,” adds Abrams. “It’s not out of the blue, but what happens at the very end of this year, for me, it’s the greatest finale I have ever heard.”

Although Abrams hopes to return to “Lost” but also continue his film career, he doesn’t think an “Alias” or “Lost” film is in the making.

“Right now “Alias’ is sort of going to rest in just the right way so I think that it’s the right way for it to go out,” he says and then points out that with “Lost,” “I think we make it every week. I honestly don’t know what else we would do.”

“Alias” will experience its final double-cross on May 22, and “Lost” will wrap up its second season two days later on May 24.

CBS takes broadband plunge

CBS is taking a big leap into the broadband pool, launching a channel that will offer up original programming alongside repeats of shows from the broadcast network.

The channel, called “innertube,” launched Thursday on CBS.com. The channel’s programming will be free to users and supported by advertisers just like conventional TV. It will eventually include reruns of current CBS shows as well as new content.

“Our company possesses some of the world’s finest entertainment programming assets and brands, and we will continue on a strategic course to find as many distribution channels and new revenue streams for them as possible,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves says. “With this broadband channel, we’ve essentially bypassed cable and created a general entertainment outlet utilizing existing creative and content resources.”

Innertube programming will be supported by pre-show ads and fairly prominent product placement. One offering, a fraternity-makeover show called “Greek to Chic,” is sponsored partly by Chili’s and Dr. Pepper; the premiere episode features one of the frat boys taking his date to Chili’s while wearing a Dr. Pepper T-shirt.

In addition to “Greek to Chic,” early innertube shows will include “Beyond Survivor,” a behind-the-scenes peek at CBS’ reality flagship; “BBQ Bill,” a sketch-comedy show featuring “Mad TV” alum Rick Najera; and Pearl Jam’s webcast concert following their taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Thursday.

Later, the channel will incorporate reruns of current CBS shows and programs from the network’s library. The network also says innertube will become “an alternative programming option for series broadcast on the network that didn’t reach a mass audience, but have a loyal, passionate following” – meaning the next “Love Monkey” might not have to migrate to VH1.

The network’s online talk shows “Survivor Live” and “House Calls” – related to “Survivor” and “Big Brother” – will continue to stream first on CBS.com, then move to innertube the day after they’re broadcast.