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Unsolved Mysteries is coming back...on HBO. Revamped!

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Unsolved Mysteries is coming back...on HBO. Revamped!

Old 06-26-07, 10:32 PM
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Unsolved Mysteries is coming back...on HBO. Revamped!

Call it “Extreme Makeover: Unsolved Mysteries.”

HBO Television Distribution—reaching outside its own pay channel's original-programming ranks for the first time—and Cosgrove/Meurer Prods. are bringing back Mysteries, the granddaddy of hybrid reality/scripted crime- reenactment series.

They plan to make the classic show—laid to rest five years ago—attractive to network buyers, through major reconstructive surgery.

HBO began knocking on doors last week, offering an all-cash deal for 175 refurbished episodes of the documentary-style series about unsolved crimes and paranormal occurrences.

During its 1987-97 NBC run, the program, with its overly dramatic narrative by the late Robert Stack, helped give rise to the ripped-from-the-headlines reality (America's Most Wanted) and scripted (Law & Order, CSI) crime procedural formats still the rage today.

Mysteries' originals later aired sporadically on CBS and Lifetime until 2002, and reruns continue to appear on the cable channel in daytime. The Lifetime and Mysteries brands became enmeshed after the women's network acquired it in 1993 and ran the show in primetime for seven years.

With Lifetime's deal expiring in 2008, the producers and HBO set out to overhaul it at a time when demand for reality fare is high. The industry is bracing for a possible labor strike next year.

HBO is taking out the series without a host, believed to be a first, and will leave it up to the acquiring cable network to choose Stack's replacement, according to Scott Carlin, president of HBO's distribution wing.

Work is under way to expand the number of unsolved evergreen stories from four to five per episode, each cut down to a maximum of seven minutes. Cosgrove/Meurer and HBO are choosing their material from 900 hours of footage shot for the original 255 episodes.

They also plan to add newly produced updates—the most popular segments of the original series—that will focus on the solving of crimes and shedding new light on cold cases, which make up 60% of the stories, according to Executive Producer John Cosgrove.

Other additions include a new set, logo, music and, most important, the computerized effects needed to bring the stories up to current standards.

Carlin and Cosgrove say that new weekly original episodes are also a distinct possibility and could come as part of the initial deal or at some point later.

And Carlin trumpets the new-media possibilities provided by the show's shorter stories, which he says “perfectly lend themselves” to appearing on a revenue-generating Website. Cosgrove is looking toward the Internet as a way to get text-messaged tips from viewers.

The sales campaign for Mysteries marks the first time HBO's distribution unit has joined with outside producers on a basic-cable or syndication project. But it won't be the last: Carlin's group is negotiating to distribute other fare that he declines to disclose.

With HBO's model of providing short runs to original primetime series, Carlin says, “we don't have the same at-bats [as broadcast networks do], so we're looking at opportunistic improvisation” to keep the distribution pipeline full.

HBO acquired the distribution rights to Unsolved Mysteries from Bob Jacquemin, the former head of Disney's syndication unit, whose company nabbed the series in 1991 during a rights auction. Carlin, then a high-ranking executive at HBO sibling Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, had led his company's bid for the show.

Jacquemin held onto the rights when he left Disney last decade for DreamWorks. He recently approached Carlin, along with Disney alum and HBO TV Distribution Executive VP Tom Cerio, about adding more bells and whistles to a series that HBO's syndication chief says felt “a little long in the tooth.”

Producers shot an hour-long prototype pilot of the new Mysteries with Clancy Brown, the deep-voiced actor from HBO's Carnivale, as the host.

Brown has made it clear that he is unavailable for the series, even though Cosgrove holds out hope he can persuade him, given the right deal.

The idea of putting an entirely new wrapping on Mysteries proved attractive to Carlin and Cerio,with most of the segment production already completed.

Carlin admits to encountering some initial hesitation when HBO first set up appointments to discuss the show with networks, but reaction among the few that have seen it so far has been positive. Some potential buyers, says Cosgrove, “didn't even recognize the show.”
AWESOME!!!!
Old 06-26-07, 10:56 PM
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So its going to be a mix revamping old episodes and having new episodes?

I don't know about changing the old ones, but Im all for new episodes
Old 06-26-07, 11:04 PM
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Yes!!!
Old 06-27-07, 12:26 AM
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I don't think it's going to be on HBO. HBO's distribution company is doing the re-editing and shopping the show to other networks.

So its going to be a mix revamping old episodes and having new episodes?

I don't know about changing the old ones, but Im all for new episodes
According to what I've read, they're just redoing old episodes for now, but may make new episodes down the road (no earlier than '08).
Old 06-27-07, 03:57 AM
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The above mentioned "overly damatic narrative by the late Robert Stack" IMO, was one of the main reasons why the show as worth watching in the first place.

All those intro bits of him lurking in his trenchcoat in a foggy alley/church/abandoned barn in the woods were far creepier than many of the stories themselves.
Old 06-27-07, 08:22 AM
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The above mentioned "overly damatic narrative by the late Robert Stack" IMO, was one of the main reasons why the show as worth watching in the first place.

All those intro bits of him lurking in his trenchcoat in a foggy alley/church/abandoned barn in the woods were far creepier than many of the stories themselves.
Well said.

Robert Stack was the best part of Unsolved Mysteries which still airs on the Mystery channel up here in Canada. I loved when Mr. Stack started doing UM because he was simply awesome in The Untouchables.
Old 06-27-07, 08:34 AM
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Oh good, shorter stories. Let's MTV it up and put the clips on Myspace.
Old 06-27-07, 08:46 AM
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Wow - I expected to hear of a Sopranos season 7 over something like this.

Either way, I'm sure HBO will do it right.
Old 06-27-07, 08:51 AM
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*runs in terror of the thought of the Unsolved Mysteries theme music*
Old 06-27-07, 10:16 AM
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The theme song was downright awesome. And it was a travesty they remixed it both for the DVD sets and for the Lifetime channel.

I hate to say it, but I was watching Lifetime when it came back on after a hiatus, and Stack just didn't sound the same, and it was really obvious, because they were mixing in one or two segments with a bunch of old ones.

Long story short, I'm not sure how this can stay afloat without Stack or the Theme Song.
Old 06-27-07, 10:54 AM
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Sweet...the yearly Halloween episode was always my favorite. Great ghost stories. They scared the crap out of me when I was little.
Old 06-27-07, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Merkin Muffley
Sweet...the yearly Halloween episode was always my favorite. Great ghost stories. They scared the crap out of me when I was little.


Originally Posted by SuperBatMan
*runs in terror of the thought of the Unsolved Mysteries theme music*
that music always freaked me out.
Old 06-27-07, 12:50 PM
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I can imagine the HBO version:
"Ain't that some weird shit? Where the fuck can Amelia Earhardt be? We don't have a fucking clue. If you have any fucking idea, call our toll-free number. Cocksucker!"
Old 06-27-07, 02:54 PM
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I got an idea for their first case...so, a mobster is last seen with his family at a diner in New Jersey...
Old 06-27-07, 04:05 PM
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I have two words for the new producers: Morgan Freeman.
Old 06-27-07, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I have two words for the new producers: Morgan Freeman.
or Keith David
Old 06-28-07, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by tsohg
or Keith David
or Michael Richards
Old 06-28-07, 02:40 PM
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or Michael Richards


My vote is for: Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU) but he might not have time because he is going to be writing 2 mystery books.
Old 06-28-07, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles




that music always freaked me out.
yeah the ghost/ufo ones used to scare the crap out of me as a kid. I agree, Stack himself in that foggy alley with the music was sometimes the creepiest part of the show.
Old 06-28-07, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Geofferson
Wow - I expected to hear of a Sopranos season 7 over something like this.
Actually that's the first "Mystery": WTF happened to Tony in that ice cream parlor!
Old 06-29-07, 04:24 AM
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This show scared the shit out of me as a kid. There's nothing like unsolved murder/kidnapping/alien abduction mystery paranoia keeping a kid up all night.
Old 07-03-07, 02:21 AM
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This is still my fave show after all these years. If they do bring it back, I suggest going back to basics. Sadly, the inimitable Stack is gone, but they could bring back the original version of the music, not the diluted remixes, and they could return to the pitch-perfect production that made the show so scary, unlike the juvenile bombast of a similarly themed show like "Amercia's Most Wanted". If I were in control, I would do away with tacky material like ghosts, miracles, and other nonsense, and stick with crimes, disappearances, and other strictly authentic and verifiable stories. Some of the best segments of the old show dealt with people looking for strangers who had helped them.
Old 07-03-07, 04:22 AM
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I'd watch it. I bet there are tons of these stories that have been resolved but most people don't know it.

And yes, put me down as another person that got freaked out by the music. Also the original theme for HBO Feature Presentation.
Old 07-03-07, 08:00 AM
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I don't remember where, but there's a pretty diehard message board for fans of the show where they keep tabs on a lot of the stories that have since been solved.

I am all for them getting rid of some segments. If I have to watch another Lost Loves...
Old 07-03-07, 05:42 PM
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As for a new host, I would not be averse to Stacy Keach, William Shatner, or Bill Kurtis. All three are excellent narrators and have the necessary gravitas. Keach is one of the best narrators around and has a voice that is comparably smoky to Stack's. I still have fond memories of Shatner's gig on "Rescue 911" (there's another program I would like to see revived), even though I don't care for Shatner himself. And of course Kurtis hosted his recently cancelled series on A&E, "Cold Case Files", "American Justice", and "Investigative Reports".

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