Just weeks after announcing that actress Kathrine Hahn would star as the late comedienne and gay icon Joan Rivers, parent network Showtime has scrapped the much-anticipated series.
Variety reports that the show, written by Cosmo Carlson and produced & directed by Greg Berlanti, ran into legal issues with the Rivers estate. Specifically, the producers of the show had purchased Carlson’s script on spec without securing the rights to Rivers’ life. Those rights rest with Rivers’ daughter Melissa, who had not been approached or consulted to give her blessing to the series.
Technically, the show still could have moved forward without the involvement of Melissa Rivers, though it could not have legally used any of Rivers’ signature jokes or catchphrases.
The trade newspaper further reports that “The limited series was set during a precarious time in Joan Rivers’ life: primarily in the aftermath of the cancellation of her late-night talk show on Fox, “The Late Show.” That period coincided with the death by suicide of Rivers’ husband (and “Late Show” producer) Edgar Rosenberg — Melissa Rivers’ father.”
No word on if Melissa Rivers is currently planning her own biopic of her mother.
Joan Rivers died at age 81 in 2014 after a sprawling career in standup comedy, television, and films. Throughout her career, she attracted gay audiences for her mix of campy and self-effacing humor. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show host in 1992 for The Joan Rivers Show and was nominated for Best Actress in a Play at the Tony Awards in 1994 for her one-woman show, Sally Marr…and her Escorts.