- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 17, 2004

‘Reno’ renewed

Comedy Central’s improvised comedy “Reno 911!” will keep collaring bogus bad guys into 2005.

The cable network announced last week that the critically-hailed series has been renewed for a third season, debuting next summer.

The show, created by stars Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney-Silver and Thomas Lennon, follows a group of law enforcement officers in a silly sendup of Fox TV’s long-running “Cops.”

McQueen ‘lives’ again

The late Steve McQueen is hitting the road once more to push the 2005 Mustang, Associated Press reports.

Never mind that many of today’s Mustang buyers may not be old enough to remember the screen idol, who died in 1980.

That’s OK, say marketing experts, explaining that the ads are right on target because of the mystique surrounding the late actor.

“It’s a very positive association,” Wes Brown, a partner in the California consulting company NexTrend, told AP.

The ads draw on the actor’s appearance behind the wheel of a Mustang in the 1968 action movie “Bullitt.”

The upcoming commercial will be an homage to the 1989 film “Field of Dreams,” in which Kevin Costner portrays a dreamer who conjures the spirits of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and other baseball players when he builds a playing field on his Iowa farm.

In Ford’s spot, a farmer builds a winding racetrack, which he circles in the 2005 Mustang (due in showrooms next month). Out of the cornfield comes Mr. McQueen.

The farmer then tosses his keys to Mr. McQueen, whose likeness is created by a body double and some digital editing wizardry. The spot ends with Mr. McQueen driving off in the new Mustang.

Marketing experts say the Ford ad is pushing the right buttons because the McQueen legend and the Mustang evoke fond memories for moviegoers and car buffs alike.

Using computer magic to transcend the passage of time isn’t new to commercials. Ten years after his death in 1987, Fred Astaire’s image was featured in a TV ad that showed the legendary hoofer dancing with a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner.

“If it’s executed properly and well, it can be a very effective tool,” Mr. Brown said.

And effectively creepy, too.

‘Dallas,’ the movie?

The director of “Legally Blonde” is in talks to shoot the big-screen version of “Dallas,” Reuters News Agency reports.

Robert Luketic, whose last film was the unfairly maligned “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton,” could take on the long-running soap about a wealthy Texas oil clan. The show, a CBS staple from 1978-91, joins such TV titles as “Dukes of Hazzard” and “Bewitched” in getting big-screen makeovers.

Mr. Luketic is currently wrapping up “Monster-In-Law,” set to debut next year, which stars Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda.

Ratner’s small vision

Movie director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour”) is turning his gaze toward the small screen.

He recently inked a two-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television to develop series projects, according to Reuters.

As part of the seven-figure deal, Mr. Ratner already has set up two projects at CBS — one with feature writers David Diamond and David Weissman, and the other with “Law & Order” veteran Barry Schindel. Mr. Ratner is attached to direct both shows if they’re greenlighted as pilots, subject to his availability.

The Diamond/Weissman project is a family show about a father who’s a busy sports agent and suddenly has to spend more time at home with the youngsters when his wife gets a high-profile job. Mr. Ratner, Mr. Diamond and Mr. Weissman first teamed on the 2000 Universal feature “Family Man.”

The Schindel project, tentatively titled “Hollywood DOA,” revolves around a pair of Los Angeles detectives who piece together murder clues.

Mr. Ratner, director of the two “Rush Hour” pictures and “Red Dragon,” recently completed “After the Sunset.” Next on his schedule are “Rush Hour 3” and “Josiah’s Canon.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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