’21 Jump Street’ adapters pay tribute to Stephen J. Cannell
BY DENNIS KING
NEW YORK – You might think the guy who co-created the 1987-91 Fox TV series “21 Jump Street” would look askance at a bunch of youngsters turning his iconic cop show into an irreverent, R-rated action-comedy movie.
But the late, prolific, groundbreaking writer-producer Stephen J. Cannell was nothing if not a good sport, and to hear star Jonah Hill and co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller tell it, he was on board with the cheeky, big-screen updating of “21 Jump Street” from the word go.
During a press conference for the film hosted by Columbia Pictures as Soho’s Crosby Street Hotel, the stars and directors sang Cannell’s praises and speculated that the Emmy Award-winning producer would have been happy with their fast-and-loose homage to the series.
“21 Jump Street” stars Hill and Channing Tatum as mismatched pals and undercover cops assigned to pose as students to ferret out drug dealers at a local high school. The TV series is perhaps best remembered for launching the acting career of Johnny Depp.
Cannell, who died in 2010 at age 69, was reportedly considering his own film adaptation of “21 Jump Street” when he was first approached by star-producer-writer Hill (who co-wrote the story with Michael Bacall) to secure rights.
“I was nervous that he wouldn’t be psyched about a movie being made,” said Hill. “But not only was he excited about our movie being made, one of the times we were hanging out with him he was trying to get me to make a movie based on another one of his shows. He was just like down for his legacy to live on, and he wanted to get it into the zeitgeist again.”
Lord and Miller said they were also touched that the famed writer-producer was so supportive of their first live-action film. The two directors had previously been known for the work in animation, notably the feature comedy “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs.”
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