The UK’s Absolutely Fabulous TV show has been seen throughout the world and remains very popular with adults of all ages. There have been several attempts at recreating the bawdy series in the US but the projects have all ended up stalling. Now, it looks like the time may actually be right.
First airing from 1992 to 1996, Absolutely Fabulous centers around Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley), a pair of immature, chain-smoking, substance-abusing, fashion-obsessed ladies of London. Edina’s daughter, “Saffy” (Julia Sawalha), doesn’t approve of the excesses which provides plenty of conflict. June Whitfield plays Edna’s good-natured mother and Jane Horrocks plays Bubble, Edna’s inept personal assistant. Others in the cast include Helen Lederer, Harriet Thorpe, Naoko Mori, Christopher Malcolm, Christopher Ryan, and Mo Gaffney. New episodes of Fabulous began running in 2001.
FOX has recently announced plans to create a US version of Fabulous for the Fall 2009 schedule. The remake was ordered to pilot after a successful table read with Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock from the Sun) in the role of Patsy and Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan) as Edina. Johnston has signed to star in the pilot and she may be joined by Hahn.
While she won’t be recreating her role as Edina, Saunders is executive producing the FOX version, along with Christine Zander, a former writer of Saturday Night Live. Zander is currently writing new episodes and has previous experience writing for Johnston, having been a writer on 3rd Rock. Though similar to the original in many ways, the new series will be set in Los Angeles instead of London.
While the current Fabulous project isn’t the first time a U.S. remake has been attempted, it does mark the first one that’s gone to pilot. During the 1990s, Roseanne Barr was developing a version of Fabulous for ABC that would have starred Carrie Fisher. It never got off the ground but many of the ideas were integrated into the final season of Roseanne in which the Conner family won the lottery. Saunders and Lumley reprised their Fabulous characters in one episode while Gaffney played an unrelated character.
While some US remakes have enjoyed some success over the years (The Office, All in the Family, Three’s Company), others like Life on Mars, Coupling, and Kath & Kim have stumbled. Following in the footsteps of such a popular original, how will the new Fabulous measure up?
UPDATE: Hahn was subesquently signed to the project. Marcia Shulman, Fox’s Executive VP of casting said, “From working with Kate Winslet to Will Ferrell, it’s her broad range of talent that inspired us to give her a development deal. AbFab was bought with her specifically in mind.”