vince talotta/torstar news service


Francis Ford Coppola

MAKING WINE SPO-DEE-O-DEE: Corkscrewed is the (brilliant, sorta) title of a new reality show featuring the producers of American Idol as they try to become winemakers at their new California vineyard.

Idol creators Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe are presumable producing the show as well, which is supposed to debut on an unnamed network later this year.

The two men have been on a roll lately. In addition to Idol, Warwick is also the executive producer of America’s Got Talent, while Lythgoe, a former dancer, is the producer and most consistently charming judge on So You Think You Can Dance? It’s doubtful if a show about winemaking will draw the same sorts of numbers, but I’d certainly watch it — there’s nothing more amusing that watching rich men squander a fortune out of love and enthusiasm on a marginally profitable, potentially heartbreaking enterprise. The only thing that would be better is if it was about cockfighting.

EAVESDROPPING: Longtime fans of director Francis Ford Coppola will greet the news of his involvement in a TV series adapted from The Conversation, the paranoid masterpiece he made between the first and second Godfather films, as the latest admission that he probably doesn’t have another really great film left in him.

According to a Variety story, ABC has committed to a pilot for the series, which Coppola will executive produce, and 24 producer Tony Krantz will produce. NBC filmed a pilot based on The Conversation 11 years ago, but shelved it unaired.

No word on who’ll play surveillance expert Harry Caul, portrayed by Gene Hackman in the original movie, but ABC Entertainment president Steve McPherson made a sweetheart deal for the show, apparently envisioning it as a procedural thriller in the CSI/Justice vein — there aren’t a lot of shows like that on the air, right?

“It’s relevant to our times,” Krantz told Variety, while Jendresen promised the show will work with themes of “paranoia and fear” as well as “the individual’s relationship with the establishment,” which kind of brings to mind other shows such as 24, Alias and Lost, if you think about it, but not that hard.

Only TV — and TV executives — have the unique talent for making an original, once-brilliant idea suddenly seem tired. If it isn’t brilliant — and considering the writers, it has at least a 3-1 chance of being halfway interesting — at least the original film has been around long enough to keep the TV adaptation withering in its considerable shadow.

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