Back in 1989, Ron Howard directed Parenthood, a charming family movie about the extended Buckman clan and the trials and tribulations of raising children. The light-hearted film was a box office success and stars a diverse cast including Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Martha Plimpton, and Joaquin Phoenix. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards, with Wiest being nominated for Best Supporting Actress and composer Randy Newman landing a Best Song nomination.
Based on the success of the film, NBC decided to try making a Parenthood TV show. The plot was very similar and three actors reprised their suppting roles; Ivyann Schwan, Zachary La Voy, and Max Elliott Slade. The series stars Ed Begley, Jr., Maryedith Burrell, Ken Ober, William Windom, and Jayne Atkinson. Curiously, many of the young and virtually unknown castmembers have gone on to a great amount of success over the years — David Arquette, Thora Birch, and some guy named Leonardo DiCaprio. Other castmembers include Mary Jackson, Sheila MacRae, Bess Meyer, Susan Norman.
Though the half-hour sitcom was co-written by a pre-Buffy the Vampire Slayer Joss Whedon, it wasn’t a favorite with viewers or critics. Only 12 episodes were made before Parenthood was cancelled. The last episode aired on August 11, 1991.
Now, 20 years after the theatrical release of the movie, NBC is developing a new Parenthood TV show. It’s being adapted by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) who will executive produce, along with Imagine TV’s Howard and Brian Grazier. The project supposedly will not interfere with Katim’s commitment to Lights, should it be renewed for another season.
Peter Krause (Dirty Sexy Money) and Maura Tierney (ER) have just been cast in the project and will play the roles originated by Martin and Weist in the film version. They join several other cancelled TV show veterans. Erika Christensen (Six Degrees), Mae Whitman (Arrested Development), Sarah Ramos (Runaway), are all set to co-star and Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and Dax Shepard (Punk’d) are currently in negotiations to join them.
This new version of Parenthood will be an hour-long update of the original and take into account the modern challenges of parenting in today’s fast-paced world. The network has committed to shooting a pilot but hasn’t given the series a full greenlight yet.