“Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive.” These are the memorable words that begin each episode of the classic 70s television series “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Rumor has it that Mark Wahlberg has been tapped to portray the cybernetically rebuilt astronaut, Steve Austin, whose body sustained near fatal injuries after his experimental aircraft crashed. Peter Berg is attached to produce and possibly direct the feature. The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein will produce.
“The Six Million Dollar Man” film remake has had some difficulty getting off the ground since the mid-90s. Filmmaker Kevin Smith wrote a draft for a screenplay in the 90s, which failed to go anywhere until it was turned into the comic book “The Bionic Man” in 2011. 2003 saw a comical approach to the franchise with Jim Carrey filling the running shoes of Steve Austin, while Todd Phillips (“The Hangover” trilogy) took over the writing and directing chores. Thankfully, this project never saw the light of day. Actor Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman) confirmed in 2006 that he was attached to plans for a “Six Million Dollar Man” remake, but negotiations between Universal, who owned the rights to the television series, and Miramax, which owned the rights to the Martin Caidan novel, “Cyborg,” on which the series is based, stalled.
With negotiations taking years to work out, it was finally announced in 2011 that Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to star in the film, while filmmaker Bryan Singer would sit in the director’s chair. The film would follow the script written by Darren Lemke (“Shrek Forever After.”) Again plans fell through. Still undeterred, neither Universal or Weinstein has given up hope to bring their Bionic dream to the big screen.
Berg and Wahlberg do have history. They recently worked together on the 2013 action film “Lone Survivor.” Berg is capable of handling large budget action films. He directed Will Smith in 2008’s “Hancock,” and tackled the board game to big screen adaptation of “Battleship” in 2012. Wahlberg has just come off the mega-hit film “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” and is currently finishing the thriller “The Gambler.”
“The Six Million Dollar Man” original television series aired for five seasons from 1974-1978 after following three made for TV movies, which aired in 1973. The series created the spin-off, “The Bionic Woman,” which starred Lindsay Wagoner as Jaime Sommers, who like Steve Austin had cybernetic implants, after a near fatal skydiving accident. In 2007, “The Bionic Woman” was remade into a television series, which only lasted nine episodes starring Michelle Ryan as Sommers.
Fans hope this isn’t another false start for “The Six Million Dollar Man.” Wahlberg does have the muscles and acting chops to pull off the role. Stay tuned for more updates.