James Stewart is shown in a scene from the 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” (AP)

“Mr. Smith” is one of Frank Capra’s great whistleblower flicks. The late ‘30s flick starred James Stewart as an idealistic kids’ paper publisher and head of Boy Rangers (euphemism for Boy Scouts) who’s named to replace a deceased U.S. senator representing an unnamed Western state, because a political boss thinks Smith will be easy to manipulate. In Washington, he’s taken under wing by a crooked senator from his state, who was his dad’s best friend, only the senator then tries to frame Smith when he gets in the way of a dam-building graft scheme in an appropriations bill.

So, how’s E! going to update that tale? Gerken’s modern-day “Mr. Smith,” E! said Monday, is about “a self-made billionaire with a penchant for hooking up with lobbyists in the nation’s capital.”  


The project is one of a slew of scripted drama series E! said it was developing — also including two other updates on classic stories. “Dorothy” is an update on “The Wizard of Oz,” only now Dorothy is a girl from Kansas City who falls for a guy and moves with him to the Emerald City to work in his Emerald Hotel.

Also in the works, “Anne of Hollywood,” based on the Carol Wolper novel — a retelling of the Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII relationship set in present-day Hollywood, “the flashiest, most treacherous court of all.”