CBS Reviving 1950s Western TV Series THE RIFLEMAN; Chris Columbus Will Direct and Produce

     November 8, 2011

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CBS is developing a remake of The Rifleman, the classic Western series that ran from 1958-1963.  In keeping with the legacy of Rifleman creator Sam Peckinpah, the new series is in the hands of a trio of interesting talents from the feature world.  Variety reports Chris Columbus (Percy Jackson & the Olympians), Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry), and Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) are on board as executive producers.  Columbus is attached to direct, while Lussier and Klogridis will handle the script.

Hit the jump for more on the original series, which centers on “a skilled gunman and widowed Civil War hero (Chuck Connors) who moves to uncharted New Mexico territory to raise his young son and gets recruited by the sheriff to help protect the unruly town.”

AMC provides background on the show:

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Debuting September 30, 1958 on ABC, The Rifleman set itself apart from most of the other western series of the period by giving its titular hero a family–and plenty of family responsibilities. Former pro baseball player Chuck Connors starred as Lucas McCain, a widowed westerner who moved to North Fork, New Mexico to carve out a new life for himself and his young son Mark (Johnny Crawford). All Lucas wanted was to leave the peaceful life of a rancher, but his reputation as a fast gun preceded him and he spent several episodes warding off various villains who desired to bump him off. Even so, he was determined to instill decent humans values in son Mark, forever advising the boy that violence should never be used unless as a last resort.

To put it in the context with other Westerns from the middle of the century, The Rifleman premiered just after Gunsmoke (1955) and just prior to Bonanza (1959).  Now seems like the right time to bring the Western back to broadcast television after a long period of dormancy.  Deadwood made the genre viable on TV again, Justified pulls in solid cable-level ratings for FX, and Hell on Wheels just premiered strong on AMC last Sunday.  There’s still risk (see: Cowboys & Aliens), but the appetite is there.  CBS is now in pole position to capitalize with a property that sure sounds like it has the makings of a big, broad hit.

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