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Fox drops Ab Fab into Los Angeles

Fox is apparently pressing ahead with an Americanized version of <em>Absolutely Fabulous</em>, the BBC comedy that debuted in 1992 and sporadically produced five seasons and several specials.

WHAT’S THE AMERICAN FOR ‘SWEETIE DARLING’?: Fox is apparently pressing ahead with an Americanized version of Absolutely Fabulous, the BBC comedy that debuted in 1992 and sporadically produced five seasons and several specials.

I’m a big fan of the original show, which was, at its best, one of the most caustic and inspired pieces of social satire put on television. I’m also no longer confident of my abilities to predict how well Americanizations of British shows will fare; I dismissed NBC’s version of The Office before it premiered, and despite a miserable false start, ABC’s Life On Mars turned out a lot better than my dire predictions.

While it’s good news that Jennifer Saunders, one of the stars and creators of the original, will be executive producing the show, there’s still a lot to be worried about with the Fox version, which has been given a pilot order according to Variety, and could hit the air by the fall.

WHAT COULD GO RIGHT:
According to Variety, they’ve set the show in Los Angeles, which isn’t exactly the centre of the fashion industry in America, but that could work; anyone who’s watched a couple of seasons of Project Runway knows that the biggest loose cannons on the show are often products of L.A.’s fashion scene.

Anyone who’s spent time in the boutiques of Hollywood or Beverly Hills can tell you that L.A. has money and taste in inverse proportions – as little of the latter as they have much of the former. Last year the stores were filled with pricey versions of what heavy metal groupies were wearing in the mid-80s; it would be rich to see Fox’s version of Edina making her entrance swathed in the L.A.’s response to the original’s Christian Lacroix tat.

The city matches England’s abject celeb culture and exceeds it for flaky new age trends, so the writers shouldn’t have a problem mining their hometown for fecund material, and hopefully the casting director will be able to provide cameos and guest spots from celebrities on the A, B and Z lists willing to lampoon themselves.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG:
For the life of me I can’t think of any Americans able to match Saunders’ or (especially) Joanna Lumley’s crucial roles in the show; even in England, it was hard to imagine anyone willing to humiliate themselves by embodying such grandly irredeemable characters. Faced with this obstacle, the writers and producers could scale back the show’s comic ambitions, at which point it’ll be dead in the water. I am, of course, happy to be proved wrong.