Three’s Company is headed to the big screen. The innuendo-filled ’70s sitcom is set to be reprised as a New Line movie. The studio is in negotiations to pick up the rights to the classic TV comedy, with a script penned by screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, according to the Hollywood Reporter. In addition to the He’s Just Not That Into You scribes, veteran movie producer Robert Cort (Cocktail, Runaway Bride) is attached to the project. The movie reboot of the show will reportedly be set in the 1970s.
Three’s Company was one of the biggest hits of the late 1970s. The ABC sitcom aired from 1977 to 1984 and starred Joyce DeWitt and the late John Ritter as platonic roommates who pretend that Ritter’s character is gay so they can rent a Santa Monica apartment together under a strict landlord (Norman Fell, Don Knotts.) Suzanne Somers piloted the role as the show’s resident ditzy blonde, Chrissy Snow, but was replaced after five seasons by Jenilee Harrison and later by Priscilla Barnes after a salary dispute with producers.
The ABC comedy was known for its campy style and sexual innuendos and the role of Chrissy made Somers an international sex symbol. But it was Ritter who was deemed the star of Three’s Company. Not only did the late actor win an Emmy Award for his role as chef Jack Tripper, but he was reportedly paid over three times more than his female co-stars.
Three’s Company was based on the British comedy Man About the House, and it was such a hit that it spawned the short-lived spinoff The Ropers, starring Fell and his Three’s Company co-star Audra Lindley, who played his needy wife.
Somers’ exit from Three’s Company left a rift among the original cast. The actress previously told Marie Claire magazine that she was canned from the ABC comedy after confronting producers over her unfair pay.
“I was fired from [Three’s Company] because I said, ‘I’d like you to pay me what you’re paying the men.’ I knew that I was number one in that coveted demographic, 18 to 49; why were men getting paid 10 times more? But they wanted to make it an example so that no other female could ever get that uppity on television… A producer said to the ABC people, ‘She’s a blonde. I trained her, I’ll train another one,’ like I was some sort of seal.”
Somers’ Three’s Company ousting caused a major strain in her friendships with Ritter and DeWitt (Joyce reportedly didn’t back her over the salary dispute), but years later Somers told Access Hollywood she reached out to DeWitt to bury the hatchet.
“I thought, you know, everybody’s gone from that show. John [Ritter] is dead, Norman [Fell] is dead, Audra [Lindley] is dead, the producers are all dead…” she said. “It’s just me and Joyce, and we shared a moment in time that will never be again.”
In an interview with Sitcoms Online, DeWitt downplayed tensions on the Three’s Company set, saying she felt blessed to work with such an “extraordinary support system” during her eight years on the hit sitcom.
“You know there are always complications in life and people have their personal issues and whatever,” she said. “but every time we did that show, curtain up, light the lights, audience in, here we go, and it was never anything but pure ecstasy.”
Thirty years later, it will be interesting to see who will be cast as Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and the Ropers for the big screen Three’s Company movie.
Take a look at the video below to see the original Three’s Company opening.
[Photo by ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images]