There are some TV-show remakes that work beyond your wildest dreams (who knew that “Battlestar Galactica” could be “The Sopranos” of science-fiction?) and others just make you wonder how many Hollywood executives got fired (“Bewitched” and “The Mod Squad” spring to mind). Here’s one that just sounds great, at least to me: Director John Singleton wants to take on the Reagan-era show “A-Team” and update it, making the fugitive commando team all veterans of the war in Iraq.
The grizzled Bruce Willis is in mind for the role of Col. Hannibal Smith (portrayed by George Peppard in the old NBC series) while Woody Harrelson would be wingnut pilot “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock (played by scene-stealer Dwight Shultz in the original). And what about the role of the scowling Sgt. Bosco “B.A.” Baracus, made famous by the gold-laden Mr. T?
The answer is clear, at least according to Ice Cube, the rap icon and Hollywood heavyweight.
“Man, I am so ready to play ‘B.A.’ Baracus. I was a big, big Mr. T fan. I mean, c’mon, Clubber Lang [in “Rocky III”) was amazing. I even watched his Saturday morning show, but that was cheesy. I was like everybody else, I watched it for about six weeks and said, ‘Man this isn’t any good.’ But the ‘A-Team,’ I would love for this to happen.”
Cube told me all this earlier today when I dropped by a bunker-like studio near the Burbank airport where we talked about the 20th anniversary of “Straight Outta Compton” for an upcoming article in The Times. Eventually, the subject eventually turned to his upcoming film plans — or should I say his lack of upcoming plans. Like everyone in Hollywood right now, Cube is in a holding pattern with the threatened Screen Actors Guild strike.
“Everything is in limbo,” said the 39-year-old star, but he added that his movie priority would be working again with Singleton and making the A-Team a gritty new action film. “I really want it to happen and it’s the thing we’ve been talking about lately, the thing on the other side of the strike or no-strike. I think it could be great. I always look at how they did ‘Mission: Impossible’ and even how they upgraded Batman from what it was not that long ago. The key is the story and the director.”
It’s interesting to think back to the sneering thug that Cube played in his breakout role as Doughboy in Singleton’s searing 1991 film “Boyz N the Hood.” How much of his mad-dog stare was borrowed from his mohawked hero?
I’m guessing that “A-Team” films moves forward because Hollywood dearly loves projects with nostalgic titles, high-concept plots and a few layers of cinematic credibility; Singleton’s presence would bring the latter and give the project a sort of “Three Kings” for the homefront feel. So the next big question: Will Cube’s bad-attitude commando actually show up on screen wearing gold chains by the pound?
“I don’t know about that,” Cube said, chuckling. “But, you know maybe at the end after they get all the money. I could walk out and look at the other guys and say, ‘What do you think, y’all like this look?’ We could play it for fun.”
— Geoff Boucher
Photo: Ice Cube; Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times
Photo of the NBC show “The A-Team,” cast members Dirk Benedict, Mr. T and George Peppard, from the Los Angeles Times archive.
UPDATE: May the ghost of Apollo Creed, forgive me! Somehow, don’t ask me how, in an early version of this post, I typed “Rocky II” instead of “Rocky III.” (Thanks to the reader who caught it. And by the way, to answer your question, I’m the same age as Cube.)