The Player: TV Sequel to the Tim Robbins Movie Planned

A sequel TV series to the 1992 film, The Player, which starred Tim Robbins, is in the works at Warner Television.

The Player arrived back in 1992 as an intriguing meta-minded movie that delved into the seedier aspects of the film industry, run by a director in the late Robert Altman, who had his share of experience with the topic. Interestingly, the Oscar-nominated film, which starred Tim Robbins as a Hollywood studio executive who’s under siege from death threats, is on the verge of a revival in the form of a television series.

Michael Tolkin, who wrote the original 1988 novel, The Player, as well as the screenplay for the 1992 film, has revealed to Slashfilm that Warner Television is developing a sequel series for the property. The series is designed to adapt Tolkin’s 2006 sequel novel, The Return of the Player, this time in serial television format. As Tolkin comments on the project’s status:

“We’re actually developing a series based on it for Warner Television. That’s in the early stages.”

When asked about the possibility of a return by Tim Robbins – who’s fielded television runs in recent years on HBO’s Here and Now and The Brink as well as IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon – to reprise his movie starring role, Tolkin remains muted, explaining:

“We’re not at the casting stage yet. It would be wonderful to have him.”

The Player centered around Griffin Mill (Robbins), a ruthless Hollywood executive who’s dating his story editor and is notoriously stingy with his green-lights, which makes him an enemy to writers. Consequently, when Mills starts to receive death threats, he immediately assumes that the culprit is one writer he knows to be disgruntled in David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio). After Mill subsequently confronts the suspect, a physical altercation leaves Kahane dead. What follows is a cover-up of the murder with a side of infidelity – with his victim’s girlfriend!

As Tolkin states of the story of The Return of the Player:

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“It’s Griffin 15 years later and he’s down to his last six million dollars and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. He’s in a panic about his future.”

Additionally, the radical evolution of Hollywood’s approach to projects will undoubtedly figure into the television revival of The Player, since the idea of pitching new concepts has mostly given way to the curation of existing franchises. As Tolkin comments of the revival project’s approach:

“That’s a really interesting point. I don’t think you’d say it’s Aladdin meets Infinity War. I think the movies now are so strictly genre oriented that you wouldn’t think in terms of a title. You’d think more in terms of a mashup of genre.”

Tolkin’s novel and film were highly satirical pieces about the characters who lurked in the industry and their practices, manifesting in a similar vein to contemporaries in Robert Townsend’s 1987 racial-typecasting-tackling breakthrough, Hollywood Shuffle, and the struggles of indie filmmakers depicted in director Christopher Guest’s 1989 Kevin Bacon-starring movie, The Big Picture. Yet, the field is ripe for a return to these themes, since The Player could resonate in today’s climate in the aftermath of the mountain of allegations of illicit behavior levelled at powerful industry figures, notably Miramax head Harvey Weinstein. Moreover, its chance for success increases exponentially as a peak television offering.

We’ll keep you updated on The Player television project as things develop!

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