‘Nancy Drew’ is on the case in new CW series

Kennedy McMann stars as the legendary sleuth of literature

Kennedy McMann has the title role in “Nancy Drew,” premiering Wednesday on The CW.

A new series’ version of Nancy Drew surely isn’t your mother’s or grandmother’s.

The mysteries by author Carolyn Keene – actually a pseudonym for several writers – have entertained generations, and The CW offers a very modern take on the character as “Nancy Drew” premieres Wednesday, Oct. 9. Relative newcomer Kennedy McMann plays the young sleuth whose mourning of her late mother strains her relationship with her father Carson (Scott Wolf) … not helped when Nancy becomes a suspect in a murder she discovers outside the diner where she waitresses.

“I have quite a long history with Nancy Drew,” McMann reports. “I come from a super-literary family. My mom’s an author. I grew up reading the books. I played the computer games all through college. When (this job) came about, I was like, ’I’ve been doing this my whole life! I’m ready to go.’

“But when I got the part, it had been a while since I read the books, and I intentionally did not re-read them because I was confident in the history that I had with the character. And I wanted to just be true and dedicate myself to the Nancy that we were creating.”

Kennedy McMann has the title role in “Nancy Drew,” premiering Wednesday on The CW.

Other familiar “Nancy Drew” figures are represented in the show, including Bess and George (Leah Lewis, Maddison Jaizani), though they and Nancy aren’t quite the close friends the books portray. Also remaining a major element is Ned Nickerson (Tunji Kasim), but his relationship with Nancy – which goes well beyond “chaste” in the pilot — endures some big tests, indicated by the note the opening hour ends on. Alex Saxon appears as Nancy’s savvy ally Ace.

Television has made previous runs at Nancy Drew,” including a 1970s series that starred Pamela Sue Martin (who turns up in the new one), a syndicated 1995 show with Tracy Ryan and a 2002 TV-movie featuring Maggie Lawson. Executive producer Stephanie Savage, teaming again with “Gossip Girl” and “The O.C.” producing partner Josh Schwartz, says the latest “Nancy Drew” has a clear aim.

“We’re making the show for The CW and that audience,” Savage maintains. “I have nieces that are 7 and 5, and goddaughters that are in high school and college; we’ve read the books together and watched the ’70s series together, and the little ones know that this show isn’t for them and that they’re going to have to wait ‘til they’re older.

“What they love,” adds Savage of “Drew” fans of all ages, “is the world of the story and the core character of Nancy Drew and the traits that she embodies … of being smart and brave and curious, and wanting to set the world right by figuring out what went wrong.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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