Bill Lawrence Talks RUSH HOUR Series, Martial Arts, Character Names

TV producer Bill Lawrence was at the Television Critics Association press tour today for his NBC comedy Undateable. After the panel, in which his cast riffed on my flashy red shirt, I asked Lawrence about the Rush Hour TV series he’s developing. He confirmed that it will have martial arts and it will still be the characters Det. Lee and Carter, whom Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker played in the movie.

“New plot, same characters, a little younger, a little different, fish out of water,” Lawrence said. “It’s a cool script. I’m psyched about it.”

There’s got to be a relatively small pool of martial artists who would do television. The script is not picked up to pilot yet, but if it is, Lawrence said he would cast an actor and teach him martial arts.

Rush Hour Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan 1998 New Line Cinema“The character will be a martial artist but you know how TV works,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to go with the best actor and then I’ll make anything work.”

Lawrence’s forte in TV has been comedy like Scrubs, Cougar Town, Ground Floor and Undateable. He gets the tone of a buddy cop movie though.

“My favorite genre is action-comedy. Midnight Run, favorite movie, Beverly Hills Cop, any of those old movies that had stakes but were still funny. I don’t think anybody’s done one in a while. I’m dying to. It might not work but the closest I cam was I was supposed to write and direct the new version of Fletch at some point but I bailed on it in the middle of it. The movie business is complicated.”

When Rush Hour came out in 1998, Jackie Chan’s old Peking Opera School buddy Sammo Hung had a TV show on the air. Martial Law eventually mimicked Rush Hour by pairing Hung with Arsenio Hall. I’m still waiting for Martial Law to come out on DVD, but Rush Hour will be a comedy first.

“I thought it was a great show,” Lawrence said of Martial Law. “I don’t think it had the same kind of comedy elements that we have but I thought it was really good.”

More news from TCA on Nerd Report and Nuke the Fridge this week.