For years rumors have swirled throughout Hollywood about a Topper remake.
In the late 90’s and early 2000, WKRP In Cincinatti creator Hugh Wilson was reportedly in discussions with Universal Pictures to write and direct the project with no other than Tom Cruise allegedly on board. I’m not sure what happened with that project although i suspect it may have simply been a matter of the option expiring and Universal not wishing to proceed any further.
I have mixed feelings about whether or not Hugh Wilson would’ve delivered a Topper remake that would please fans of the 1937 Topper that displayed the talents of Cary Grant, Roland Young, Constance Bennett and Billie Burke. Nor am I certain he would’ve delivered a film in the spirit of Thorne Smith’s source novel.
Hugh Wilson did brilliantly funny and inspired work early in his career when he wrote for The Bob Newhart Show (1976) and The Tony Randall Show (1976-78). As I mentioned earlier, he created WKRP In Cincinnati and also wrote a significant number of the episodes. He also wrote the first “Police Academy” movie in 1984. But his work near the end of the 90’s is what makes me have doubts as to how well his version of a Topper Remake would’ve been made. In 1999 Wilson wrote the screenplays of the Brendan Fraser hits “Blast From the Past” and “Dudley Do-Right”. Those two films are films I know I have seen but I cannot recall anything about them except wondering where my respective 112 and 77 minutes went.
The most recent news surrounding a Topper remake involves Adam Shankman, director of “Bringing Down the House”, “Hairspray” and “Cheaper By the Dozen 2”. He’s probably better known for his choreography in over 30 films. I first became aware of him as a judge on the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance”. Interestingly, Steve Martin starred in two of those movies and has reportedly signed on to do the Topper remake. I am a big fan of Martin’s work but ironically have not enjoyed his work in the remakes of “The Pink Panther” or “Cheaper By the Dozen”. I don’t blame Steve Martin though, I blame the terribly unfunny scripts he had to work with in those films.
As of late 2009, Shankman had been quoted as saying the Topper remake had fallen by the wayside due to him not getting a script he really loved. Reportedly there had been completed scripts by Randi Mayhem Singer (who wrote “Mrs Doubtfire”) as well as Jason Filardi (he wrote “Bringing Down the House”) but thus far I have not been able to get my hands on a copy of either script.
The disturbing thing about an Adam Shankman directing a Topper remake is his apparent dislike of the original film despite it having been his favorite film.
Sounds confusing doesn’t it?
You can read Shankman and Filardi’s comments about Topper in a Syfy Online Network article here:
Oddly enough, while I haven’t been impressed by Shankman’s films, I actually like the guy. He has a good sense of humor and a great energy about him. If he does wind up doing a Topper remake, I hope he gets an outstanding script to produce and direct.