Today, somewhere, Richard Grieco is probably smiling, and Johnny Depp just might be cringing. According to Entertainment Weekly, there is a big-screen version of the classic ’80s TV series “21 Jump Street” in the works. And the man supposedly behind it all might just be oddest part of this latest ’80s revival: “Superbad” star Jonah Hill .
The EW report indicates that the 24-year-old actor is in negotiations with Sony to write the screenplay and serve as executive producer of the film. It is unclear at this time whether Hill would star in the project. Also yet to be clarified is whether Hill’s take on the series will be comedic (as one would expect from the actor’s resume thus far), dramatic or, most plausibly, a blend of the two. Hill’s “Superbad” co-star Seth Rogen is similarly trying to stretch a bit through an existing property, the “Green Hornet” film he is writing and plans to star in.
“21 Jump Street” holds a special place for anyone who came of age in the late ’80s. The series ran for five seasons from 1987-1991 on the fledgling Fox network (it was one of the net’s first well-known properties) and followed a group of undercover cops who posed as students in high schools and colleges. Featuring an attractive group of young actors, led by Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise and Grieco (as loose cannon Dennis Booker), the show was a unique hybrid of television archetypes: the classic cop show and the teen-issue show. The cast had more than its share of shakeups. Grieco left the show for an infamous spin-off called — what else — “Booker,” which lasted only one season.
Of course, not every “Jump Street” alum suffered the fate of Grieco. Depp, clearly a reluctant teen heartthrob, was an almost immediate magazine-cover favorite thanks to his brooding portrayal of Tom Hanson, and he left the show in 1990 to pursue a movie career.
No word yet on whether the show’s impossible-to-forget theme song will be included in Hill’s incarnation. The original featured memorable vocals by Robinson, reportedly aided by DeLuise and Depp chiming in on the word “jump.” And we wonder why some shows are destined for infamy.
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