Former Friends star Matthew Perry has been tapped by CBS to star in, write and executive produce a new take on Neil Simon's Broadway play, The Odd Couple, for CBS, Perry will also co-write and executive produce the proposed project alongside Mad About You's Danny Jacobson, Perry will portray Oscar Madison, a sloppy, divorced sportswriter living with neatnik pal, Felix Unger, who is in the process of divorce. The role of Felix Unger has not been cast yet.
Perry told Deadline Hollywood that doing The Odd Couple has been a dream 34 years in the making. “Ever since seeing the movie The Odd Couple when I was 10 years old, it has been a dream for me to play Oscar Madison,” he said. “To be given the opportunity to develop a modern version of it for CBS has put a permanent smile across my face. I met up with a wonderful writing partner in Danny Jacobson. We both have such a passion for the source material that we have instantly become obsessed with making this great. Plus, I think it’s time for me to be in front of a live audience again. I miss that. The search for Felix Ungar is on!”
The Odd Couple, a 1965 stage play by Neil Simon was followed by a 1968 film directed by Gene Saks and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The film was highly successful with critics and audiences, grossing over $44.5 million, The success of the film was the basis for the sitcom of the same name, starring Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar, which ran for five seasons on ABC. Both actors were nominated for Emmy Awards in each year of the show's run. Jack Klugman won two Emmy Awards for his work (in 1971 and 1973) and Tony Randall won an Emmy as well (in 1975, in which, upon acceptance of the award, he commented on the fact that he wished he currently "had a job", since the show had been cancelled), the show itself was also nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in the years 1971, 1972 and 1974.
This isn't the first attempt at an Odd Couple reboot. In 1982, ABC aired a new version of The Odd Couple, this time with two African-Americans, Ron Glass as Felix and Demond Wilson as Oscar. It was called The New Odd Couple and ran less than half a season.
Klugman and Randall reunited in the 1993 CBS TV movie The Odd Couple: Together Again and another feature film, The Odd Couple II, written by once again Neil Simon (who also produced) was released in 1998. The film reunited Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger and Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison in their last film together. The film is also significant among sequels for having one of the longest gaps between the release of the original and a sequel in which all leads return.