New Dick Tracy Special With Warren Beatty Premiering Tonight

As some film fans may know, Warren Beatty has been hanging on to the rights to Dick Tracy ever since the feature film that he directed, produced, and starred in was released…back in 1990 (he purchased the rights in 1985). In the years following attempts were made to develop a sequel, but after one never happened, Tribune Publishing (the company that owns the Dick Tracy comic strip rights) filed a lawsuit against Beatty to get them back. As a means of maintaining the rights to the character amid the legal kerfuffle, Beatty produced a “Dick Tracy Special” that aired on Turner Classic Movies exactly one time, enough for a judge to rule that it satisfied Beatty’s requirements to maintain the rights. Now it seems he’s doing it again.

A listing for tonight, Friday, February 10, revealed that yet another Dick Tracy Special is set to air on TCM. Titled “Dick Tracy Special: Tracy Zooms In,” the special will air on TCM at 10:30 P.M. According to Polygon, the special features not only TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and film critic Leonard Maltin (who appeared in the first Special, where he interviewed Beatty as the character), but also sees Beatty appear as himself AND as Dick Tracy. Beatty (as Tracy) apparently even talks to Beatty (as himself), making a meta joke about Beatty retaining the rights to the character.

Beatty working this hard to retain the rights to the character, releasing one TV special eighteen years later and then another fifteen years later, seems like a lot of work in favor of a movie sequel that perhaps won’t happen. As fans may recall, a lot of the film rights contracts stipulate that projects using the characters need to be made within a certain timeframe or they return. Prior to being absorbed by The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox was forced to reboot the Fantastic Four with the 2015 feature film, lest they lose those rights to Marvel and the MCU. As we know that movie got made, but an attempt to reboot Daredevil at Fox fell through, sending the character back and paving the way for Marvel’s Daredevil series on Netflix.

As for Dick Tracy and Warren Beatty, it remains to be seen if this latest special is anything other than a stunt to keep holding on to the rights. With Beatty now 85-years-old and having only starred in two movies in the entire 21st century, the prospect of Dick Tracy 2 finally getting made seems…unlikely. Check back here in 15 years for the next Dick Tracy special when Beatty is 100.


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