“STARSKY AND HUTCH” RETURN

An update of the classic cop show is coming to the big screen and the names Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn have surfaced as possible stars. The cheesy 70s cop show has developed an affectionate fan base in recent years. The show featured two hipper than thou cops, Detective Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glasser) and Detective Ken Hutchinson (David Soul AKA “Hutch”) and their adventures featured the loveable Huggy Bear. (You had to be there.) An e-mail sent out by David Soul asks for fans to suggest what kind of “Starsky and Hutch” film they would like to see. Should it be cool and violent and Matrixy like Charlie’s Angels? Or should it suck like The Mod Squad? Studio executives are bound to screw it up, but Soul wants to know what you think. Here’s the letter he sent out on the net:
Dear Everyone,
This letter is occasioned by the recent purchase by Warner Brothers of the film rights to Starsky and Hutch, followed by the announcement that a film starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn is in development. I know the first part to be true; Warner’s did purchase the rights. The second half I heard via the grapevine which is usually wrong. However, there is enough credence surrounding the information I have, that I would like to respond … positively, I hope.
First I’d like to say that Warner Brothers is well within their rights to do any version, sequel or remake of a Starsky & Hutch film they want to do. It’s the way business works they days (trademark & brand names is where it’s at) and they do own the copyright. They believe that by casting two young “box-office” types and pandering to a certain kind of 70’s nostalgia, they will make money. As superficial an approach to entertainment as that may be, I can’t really argue with the philosophy behind how they choose to make, market or distribute their product these days. It’s all big business. I don’t like it, but that’s the “name of the game”.
On-the-other-hand, what the execs at Warner’s are missing in their equation is a huge built in audience world-wide that immediately identifies Paul Glaser and David Soul with Starsky & Hutch. Warners is flying in the face of their own demographics and business philosophy. How will they change the perception of the mass viewing public that cuts across international boundaries, that ‘Starsky & Hutch’ are NOW suddenly, 25 years later, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn or two other actors for that matter?
When the show began in 1975, Starsky and Hutch was a “water-shed” series. There was really nothing like it on television and that it has lasted so long (even after it finished production) and has illicited the kind of affection from so many millions world wide is a testimony to its genuine uniqueness … for whatever reasons: chemistry, timing, friendship, issues, humour, action, audience identification …even the car. The fact is a whole generation grew up with Starsky and Hutch and the series paved the way for a whole raft of “buddy-cop” television series and films that followed. Now, suddenly Starsky and Hutch are going to be two new, “manufactured” characters with whom no one can identify. I don’t believe the public will go for it and I believe that Warner’s are shooting themselves in the foot.
How much more clever it would be if Warner’s were to produce a film that capitalized on the real friendship between Paul and myself as well as the huge following that still exists internationally and made a film that brought closure to the Starsky and Hutch legacy; a legacy which is so much a part of the lives of those who are now in their late twenties to their mid-40’s. Paul and I do not want to do a sequel or remake of the series. We want to do an intelligent, contemporary film built around a contemporary issue and built on a relationship that for us started back in the mid-sixties, ended in 1980 and then resurfaced in 2002. The subject of the film would involve something that caused S & H to split acrimoniously in 1980 and that is finally resolved in 2002. The point of the film (finally) is that true friendship is stronger and more lasting than enmity, although the path to reconciliation may be difficult. This would be the fitting and final legacy of Starsky and Hutch.
As we ‘rally the troops’, I think it’s important that we give logic to our argument as opposed to simply “SOUR GRAPES”. “No, we don’t like what you’re doing, Warner Brothers … but beyond that it … it really makes no sense and will not, in our opinion, work in your own self-interest”.
What I think we should say is that we (the audience) will get behind something that “we” want to see and that garners the support of people who grew up with S & H and still love it or view it with respect and affection. I think this can be the basis for a real and successful marketing campaign … a campaign that will peak the imagination of the film-going audience. (Think John Cassavetes and Peter Falk)
Second thought: Can you all think of any way to perhaps access a larger number of people on the net than just our immediate DSAC & friends? Could we use the DSAC as the instigator perhaps and the kick-off point of a “campaign” and then maybe open the effort up to invite and enjoin other networks of people or organizations in support? Maybe we could find a marketing company that would be willing to work with us … providing us with their lists, etc.? Normally, that would cost; but, maybe there is a company out there that would be willing, for the right reasons and for old time’s sake, to come on board and broaden the campaign. Just a thought. What do you think?
The point is this, as crazy as it all sounds: I’d like to use the net to express our strong feelings about completing the cycle of S & H and then generate enough “positive” objection to Warner’s proposed film to cause Warner’s to seriously reconsider their plans. What we are saying to Warner’s (before they commit to a film) is that the viewers should have a voice in determining what film they want to see. If the decision is purely corporate and doesn’t respond to the desires of their potential audience, the film is destined to fail. That’s called the power of interactivity or Interactive Consumer Power… and if you think about it, the marketing approach I’ve suggested above could very well work in the self-interest of Warner Bros. ^ I’d love to hear yours and others opinions … what do you think? REALISTICALLY, from the viewpoint of the fan as well as the viewpoint of the ordinary audience-viewer (not necessarily part of ‘fandom’). Sometimes the viewpoint of the fan gets skewered by their own predisposition. If we are to make any headway, this whole campaign has to ring of legitimacy rather than “hurt feelings”. ^ Anyway, thank you all for your ongoing interest and support. You’re great! ^ Warm regards, ^ DAVID SOUL

Soul asks that you send your thoughts about what kind of “Starsky and Hutch” movie you’d like to see to a buddy of his and keep the e-mails short — less than 10 lines if you can.
Visit the official Starsky and Hutch web site.
Special thanks to Coming Attractions for info for this piece.

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Posted on August 30, 2001 in News by
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