"Sony Pictures Animation has set Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions on 'Manimal,' the feature based on the cult 1980s TV show about a man who fights crime using his ability to morph into animals," reports Deadline in an exclusive story.
The story continues, "The original 1983 series starred Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a dashing and wealthy man raised in Africa who was also 'master of the secrets that divide man from animal.' It was cancelled after eight episodes, only to live on in the hearts of a devoted cult fandom…. Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/animation hybrid will reinvent that concept as an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements."
TV Guide once did a list of the 50 worst series ever on TV, and "Manimal" was listed at No. 15. (No. 1 on the list was "The Jerry Springer Show," and No. 2 was "My Mother the Car.")
"Manimal" was part of the infamous 9 new series that NBC introduced in the fall of 1983, none of which made it to a second season. Both critics and viewers alike seemed to hold a special distain for "Manimal." The series quickly fell into the bottom 10 in the weekly ratings, and that's where it resided when it was cancelled. The other eight series NBC introduced that season were "Bay City Blues," "Boone," "For Love and Honor," "Jennifer Slept Here," "The Rousters," "Mr. Smith," "We Got It Made," and "The Yellow Rose."
The late Brandon Tartikoff, who was NBC's Entertainment chief at the time, and who introduced many, many hit shows, from "The Cosby Show" to "Miami Vice," when he was complimented for being such a great programmer, would often self-effacingly say that he was also the guy who put "Manimal" on the air.
With tongue clearly planted firmly in his cheek, Will Ferrell's business and writing partner Adam McKay said, according to Deadline, "Like 'The Catcher In The Rye' or 'The Sound And The Fury,' 'Manimal' has always been one of those elusive projects every producer dreams of taking to the silver screen. I know the movie will be funny and entertaining, but will it be the first film to win a Pulitzer? We’ll just have to see.”