Former Neighbours actress Margot Robbie is the first to be signed as a flight attendant in ABC’s (US) jet-setting Pilot Pan Am.
Robbie will play Laura, a radiantly beautiful new stewardess whose candid graduation shot is on the cover of Life Magazine.
The 1960 series is penned by Jack Orman (ER), based on an idea by producer Nancy Ganis, who was herself a Pan Am flight attendant 30 years ago. The West Wing’s Thomas Schlamme will direct.
According to Sony Pictures TV production president Zack the critical acclaim behind Mad Men made it easier to pitch a period piece.
“Absolutely Mad Men made the period more acceptable,” he said. “It’s a template for that period. But I don’t think we’d go out and imitate what Mad Men does.”
The show will highlight the famous hostesses, considered national ambassadors at the time.
“They were really interesting women at a time when a lot of things were happening, particularly for women in this country… and in terms for what Pan Am did for exporting American culture and importing the world, think about all the visuals of the Beatles landing at JFK on Pan Am.”
The intellectual property for Pan Am (full name: Pan American World Airways) is owned by the privately-held Pan Am Systems, which is run by Mellon banking heir Timothy Mellon, as well as David Fink and son David A. Fink, among others.
“Nancy worked long and hard to convince them that TV was the next flight for Pan Am to take,” he said.
Pan Am will focus on the flight attendants and their underlying secrets. One of the characters, for example, is recruited by the State Dept. into espionage – something that actually happened in real life. Another character may hail from France.
The original Pan Am airline filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 1991.