American TV network to remake 'The Office' despite failure of pilot

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The Independent Online

The cult sitcom The Office is to be remade for an American audience by the US television network behind Friends - despite the lukewarm reaction of a pilot audience.

The cult sitcom The Office is to be remade for an American audience by the US television network behind Friends - despite the lukewarm reaction of a pilot audience.

NBC has commissioned six episodes of the BBC comedy, after buying the rights from co-creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and the BBC.

The show, which will go on air in the autumn, has been adapted for a US audience by screenwriter Greg Daniels, who has worked on The Simpsons and Seinfeld. It has been renamed The Office: An American Workplace.

Gervais, who played the cringe-making central character David Brent in the original, will be a script adviser and general consultant on the US adaptation, together with Merchant.

However, he has already indicated that he will not become too closely involved, telling the Los Angeles Times: "We sold the rights. It's like selling a house and then you keep turning up saying 'Why are you changing the fireplace?' I've done my bit."

Steve Carell, an American comedian from The Daily Show, a satire show on the US network Comedy Central, who starred alongside Jim Carrey in the film Bruce Almighty, will take the part of Brent's character, who has been renamed Michael Scott.

There are doubts about how well the dry as a bone humour of The Office, set in the fictional Slough-based paper merchants Wernham Hogg, will translate to a US audience. A screening of a pilot of the show received a lukewarm reception from American viewers.

Gervais has joked that "better teeth" would be the main difference between the US version and the British original.

Coupling, another BBC2 sitcom remade for the US by NBC, proved a flop last year and was pulled from the schedules after just one month.

The Office has already enjoyed some success in America, winning two Golden Globes in Los Angeles in January for best television comedy, and best comedy actor for Gervais.

NBC has unveiled its new line-up for 2004 and 2005, following the end of its hugely successful sitcoms Friends and Frasier.

The network's new shows include Joey, a spin-off starring Friends actor Matt LeBlanc, whose character moves to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.

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