Kathy Bates is set to take the lead in a new CBS pilot rebooting the classic legal drama Matlock, with her in the gender-swapped title role.
Matlock is getting a brand-new reboot at CBS, with Kathy Bates set for the gender-swapped lead role. The original Matlock originally ran on NBC from 1986 to 1992 before moving to ABC until it went off the air in 1995, overall running for a total of 193 episodes plus a feature-length pilot. The series followed Andy Griffith as Ben Matlock, a skilled attorney who hides his cutthroat nature behind a folksy exterior.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Jane the Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman is developing a reboot of Matlock that has received a pilot order. The series will star Bates in the Griffith role, with the character now renamed Madeline Matlock. The premise will be similar, with Matlock – a former DA who is now in her 70s – un-retiring and coming to a prestigious law firm where she conquers a variety of cases using her supposed guilelessness to her advantage.
Kathy Bates Has an Oscar, But She’s No Stranger to Television
Throughout her career, Bates has been best known for her film roles. Although her breakthrough role came in 1990 with her Oscar-winning performance as Annie Wilkes in Misery, she previously starred in films including Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and Arthur 2: On the Rocks. Afterward, she went on to projects including Fried Green Tomatoes, Titanic, and even the upcoming adaptation of the Judy Blume novel Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret, earning additional Oscar nominations for her work in Primary Colors, About Schmidt, and Richard Jewell.
Although even in the 1990s there was a stigma against film actors appearing in television roles, Bates has long had one foot in both industries. Throughout her career, she appeared on various episodes of series including King of the Hill, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Cagney & Lacey, St. Elsewhere, and Six Feet Under. However, the television role that truly kicked off a new spate of series appearances was her appearance on The Office as Jo Bennet, the CEO of the Floridian printer company Sabre that acquires the central paper company Dunder Mifflin in season 6, leading to huge shakeups for the employees of the Scranton branch.
After her 8-episode stint on The Office, the floodgates opened for Bates’ television opportunities. She followed that up by taking the lead role in David E. Kelley’s 2011 legal series Harry’s Law, also starring in Netflix’s stoner comedy Disjointed, and joining the cast of American Horror Story season 3, returning to that series several times over the years for a total of 58 episodes at the time of writing. This new lead role in Matlock makes perfect sense as a next step for a celebrated actor who’s never been afraid to commit herself to a longer-running series.
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