Tuesday Pitch Meeting

on November 24, 2009 by Steve Simels


american gladiators.jpgSo yesterday I was once again immersed, as is my custom, in the great comforting warm bath that is the New York Times Arts & Leisure section when the following item all but leapt off the page at me.


Nitro and Lace will be back, and in full-length feature form. According to Variety, Peter Iliff has been hired to write a live-action film based on American Gladiators. The script will incorporate characters adapted from the original television show, first broadcast in the 1980s, and turn them into superheroes. Scott Mednick and the Gladiators creator, Johnny Ferraro, are producing, with a release date anticipated in 2011.


This is splendid news of course, and speaking as a fan of the original 80s show -- in which colorfully clad, be-mulletted working class demi-gods and goddesses competed in contests of strength and agility involving acres of mesh netting and spandex -- I can say that I always felt those guys and gals were superheroes in the truest sense, and thoroughly deserving of their own movie.

Although I must admit, I actually kinda preferred the contemporaneous G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). That Colonel Ninotchka was a real piece of pastry, I'll tell you that for free.

But I digress.


gladiator at law.jpgIn any case, it occurred to me that if you're going to make a contemporary gladiator movie with an American setting, then you probably should think about adapting the incredible and incredibly prescient 1955 sci-fi novel Gladiator at Law by the amazing team of Fredrik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth.


The novel's premise is pretty much summed up by the title -- in the not too distant future, the United States is ruled by mega-law firms, and depending on how prestigious the firm, the titular attorneys must settle cases in hand-to-hand combat to the death (said combats staged in giant stadiums and broadcast, bread and circus style, to a panting public). Obviously, there's the germ of a crowd-pleasing movie here, and the set-up is hardly any sillier than a contemporary reality show. I mean seriously -- have you ever actually watched Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares?

I should also add that Pohl and Kornbluth, whose day jobs involved toiling at ad agencies of the sort of late familiar from Mad Men, previously (1953) wrote the equally prescient and screen-worthy The Space Merchants, in which corporations rule the United States. Literally -- a senator from Xerox, a congressman from General Mills and...well, you get the idea. Pretty much like the form of government we actually have now.

To my surprise, it seems Gladiator at Law is out of print at the moment, but you can find a used copy over here. Not sure who owns the film rights to the thing, but I'm sure we can pick it up for a song.

Bottom line: If anybody at a studio is reading this and is interested, please contact my rep Morty Lachman at the Gonif Agency and we'll talk.


Tags: Peter Iliff, American Gladiators, Johnny Ferraro, G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), The Space Merchants

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