Oscar-winning "Crash" finds new life on TV

Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:08pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four years after polarizing Americans with its take on racial bigotry and stereotypes, Oscar-winning movie "Crash" is enjoying a new life as a television series that has equally divided critics.

The mixed reception for the edgy TV show, which like the movie explores race and racism among city dwellers, comes as little surprise to Canadian writer-director Paul Haggis. He first envisaged "Crash" as a TV show, but was ridiculed when he began pitching the idea to executives in the early 2000s.

"When I came up with an idea I automatically thought of it as a TV series but 'Crash' didn't seem to fit one. When I took it around and tried to pitch it, people laughed at me, " Haggis told Reuters.

After the movie "Crash" won three Oscars for 2005, including one for the year's best film, everything changed.

"Then people said 'oh, okay'," Haggis laughed.

"Crash" the TV series stars Dennis Hopper and is the first original drama on U.S. premium cable TV channel Starz, reflecting a trend that has seen acclaimed dramas and comedies find homes on subscription channels as network TV turns toward reality and game shows.

Haggis, 55, is an executive producer but sees himself more as the show's "cheerleader," having handed the writing to a team that has created a new set of misbehaving cops of all ethnicities, a reformed Korean gang member and a rich, white frustrated housewife.

Turning over his fictional baby wasn't too hard for Haggis, even though "Crash" was inspired by events in his own life in Los Angeles, including a late-night carjacking in 1991.   Continued...

<p>Writer and director Paul Haggis arrives at a screening celebrating the DVD box set release of the "Dirty Harry" film franchise in Los Angeles May 29, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>