‘Urban Cowboy’ Series in the Works at Paramount+; Justin Simien to Write and Direct ‘Flashdance’ Adaptation

Paramount+ is doubling down on its ’80s nostalgia, announcing a new series based on the John Travolta film “Urban Cowboy” and setting a director and writer for its upcoming new take on “Flashdance.”

James Ponsoldt (“Sorry For Your Loss”) will co-write and direct the “Urban Cowboy” series based on the 1980 film starring Travolta and Debra Winger. And Justin Simien of “Dear White People” fame is on board to adapt and direct his own contemporary take on “Flashdance.” Both updates were unveiled at ViacomCBS’ Television Critics Association Winter Tour presentation Tuesday, and each series will debut for the Paramount+ streaming service.

Ponsoldt will co-write “Urban Cowboy” along with Benjamin Percy. The series will dive deeper into the story of Bud and his journey from living on a farm to the big city in 1980s Houston. The series will also feature iconic music from the era. No casting details were unveiled.

“Urban Cowboy” grossed $46.9 million domestically at the box office for Paramount Pictures and helped to push country music and Western fashion into the American mainstream. Fox had once planned a pilot order based on the film to be written and directed by Craig Brewer, but the network pulled the plug on the project.

Ponsoldt just brought his latest film, “Summering,” to the Sundance Film Festival, and he’s also at work on a series adaptation of the book “Daisy Jones & The Six.”

As for “Flashdance,” Simien is now onboard to both write and direct the series, which was previously unveiled as far back as October 2020,. The series will be set in the modern day and focuses on a Black woman working in a strip club who has dreams of becoming a ballet dancer.

Released in 1983, “Flashdance” was an example of the “high concept” movies that dominated the ’80s box office and was reductively described as “‘Rocky’ For Women.” Critics were hardly fans of the film, but it grossed just shy of $93 million at the domestic box office, it made a star of Jennifer Beals and even won an Oscar for its title song, “Flashdance…What a Feeling.” And the stylized scene of Beals leaning back in a chair as a splash of water soaks her from overhead has become an iconic and much parodied ’80s staple.

These projects join the previously announced development of a “Frasier” revival, which will continue the story of Frasier Crane along with Kelsey Grammer starring and executive producing. Paramount+ also set a project called “Guru Nation” that’s a reunion of David Cross and Bob Odenkirk and is a half-hour docu-style comedy series about rival cult gurus.