If there is one movie in the past few years this writer feels was underrated and dismissed too easily, it’s Robert De Niro‘s 2006 effort “The Good Shepherd.” Running way ahead of more critically acclaimed fare like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” De Niro’s film was an equally cold and sober look at the spy game, which quietly but effectively explored the moral and emotional toll it takes. For a while, he had been talking up a sequel — and was even dreaming of a trilogy — but considering the film cost about $80 million, only grossed $59 million domestically and topped out around $100 million internationally, it’s no surprise Universal wasn’t in a hurry. But it seems the project hasn’t left his desk, and now has found some intriguing new life.
De Niro and screenwriter Eric Roth are set to dip into the world of spies once again, as they are teaming up to bring “The Good Shepherd” to Showtime. They will use the small screen format to delve deeper into the characters from the film, and will center on the family of a CIA operative. And we’d reckon the breathing room and space is an attractive opportunity for De Niro who mentioned this spring that Universal had given the go-ahead for a followup film, but at a much lower budget that he turned down.
Roth will write and De Niro will direct, but the big question will be if they will be able to crack the expectations of a weekly show. One of the big complaints for many was that “The Good Shepherd” was too cold, internal and slow. And a serialized format generally demands more cliffhangers and incidents to keep viewers returning, rather than a slow burn which is a much tougher sell. But at least on Showtime they’ll be free of the constrains of network TV, so that’s a plus.
Either way, this is much more promising than “Midnight Run 2” or another ‘Fockers,’ and it’s clearly something De Niro is invested in, having kept at it this long. So we’re excited to see how this turns out. [Deadline]