Simon Pegg on the American Remake of Spaced

Simon Pegg has released an official statement regarding the American remake of Edgar Wright’s UK show Spaced, which is being produced by McG.

If you’re a huge fan of Edgar Wright, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (you know, the guys who brought us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), than you’ve might have seen their now cult classic British television show Spaced. The original series, which ran on Channel 4 in the U.K. for two seasons, was written by Pegg and Jessica Hynes, and was directed by Wright. The show followed two strangers who must pose as a married couple to rent an apartment. It earned two BAFTA nominations and an International Emmy nomination. If you have never watched this series, now is a great time to import the DVD box set or download the series.

Wright and Pegg are clearly unhappy that they have not been included in on the development of this project, since they were clearly responsible for much of what became the Channel 4 series. Read Pegg’s statement below:

SIMON’S OFFICIAL STATEMENT REGARDING THE US SPACED
Thoughts on the subject of an American Spaced. Feel free to skip to the end.

Now that the pilot has been officially announced, I thought it might be a good idea to clarify my position on the subject. The whole affair seems to have inspired some spirited debate and some heartening displays of loyalty and love. All this for a show which is almost 10 years old, is all rather wonderful and a vindication of all the blood, sweat and tears (both of joy and pain) we shed in the show’s creation. It was always our aim to create a comedy which spoke to its audience on such a personal level, it almost felt one on one. It would seem the fan reaction to the news that Fox has appropriated the format, confirms at least, that we succeeded.

As far as remaking TV shows for different territories is concerned, I don’t have a problem. The Office remake being a perfect example. Yes, the original British version is a wonderful and compact piece of comedy writing and performance, but I think it’s bit much to expect a large scale American television audience to fully relate to the minutiae of day-to-day business life in an obscure British suburb. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you are the type of person who takes pleasure in the variety of entertainment you enjoy, relishing the differences between our various cultural touchstones but there is a massive audience out there, which perhaps isn’t as culturally savvy (euphemistic phrase for ‘geeky’) as we are and need their signifiers to be a little more familiar. So, Slough is replaced by Scranton, and the office archetypes become a little more archetypal to an American audience. The spirit of the show remains intact. The performances are uniformly great and the show scores big ratings and wins EMMYs, whether we as comedy purists prefer the original or not. The success of the remake is born out by it’s undoubted success and appeal.

My main problem with the notion of a Spaced remake is the sheer lack of respect that Granada/ Wonderland/Warner Bros have displayed in respectively selling out and appropriating our ideas without even letting us know. A decision I can only presume was made as a way of avoiding having to give us any money, whilst at the same time using mine and Edgar’s name in their press release, in order to trade on the success of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, even professing, as Peter Johnson did, to being a big fan of the show and it’s creators. A device made all the more heinous by the fact that the press release neglected to mention the show’s co-creator and female voice, Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson). The fact is, when we signed our contracts ten years ago, we had neither the experience or the kudos to demand any clauses securing any control over future reversioning. We signed away our rights to any input in the show’s international future, because we just wanted to get the show made and these dark days of legal piracy seemed a far away concern. As a result, we have no rights. The show does not belong to us and, those that do own it have no obligation to include us in any future plans. You would perhaps hope though, out of basic professional respect and courtesy, we might have been consulted. It is this flagrant snub and effective vote of no confidence in the very people that created the show, that has caused such affront at our end. If they don’t care about the integrity of the original, why call it Spaced? Why attempt to find some validation by including mine and Edgar’s names in the press release as if we were involved? Why not just lift the premise? Two strangers, pretend to be a couple in order to secure residence of a flat/apartment. It’s hardly Ibsen. Jess and I specifically jumped off from a very mainstream sitcom premise in order to unravel it so completely. Take it, have it, call it Perfect Strangers and hope Balkie doesn’t sue. Just don’t call it Spaced.

It’s a shame, since the pilot is now a certainty, whether we like it or not, a simple phone call and a few reassurances might have helped to at least curtail the tide of indignation from fans and creators alike. I have, as of yet, heard nothing.

Simon Pegg

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