Did the Chew TV series get scrapped because of racebending?

Fans of the comic book series Chew were bummed to hear that long-awaited plans for a TV series adaptation had been scrapped at Showtime. Now there are rumors circulating that it never got off the ground because the network wanted Kiefer Sutherland to play the lead Asian American lead character Tony Chu: Did Racebending With Kiefer Sutherland Stop The Chew TV Series At Showtime?

At a recent comics retailer summit, Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson told a crowd that the Chew TV series didn't happen because Showtime wanted Kiefer Sutherland, who, you know, is not Asian, to play the lead. But series creator John Layman said no way to that. Maybe this is true, but the Layman is telling it, Stephenson might have been joking. Still, the speculation gives you an unpleasant glimpse of how things could have gone awry:

Checking in with John Layman, he tells me that Eric may have been joking (though it didn’t seem to come over to retailers who were there) and that the series didn’t happen because Showtime changed their focus from shows like Dexter to shows like Homeland, and scenes of corpse licking while might work well with Guillory’s cartoony art, it turned people’s stomachs when on camera. So animation may now be the way to go…

I'm told that at one point early on that, yes, Kiefer Sutherland was mentioned to play Tony Chu, but John Layman used that as an example of something he would not say no to. The channel had bigger problems with Chew and the final draft had removed the element of bird flu, and it ended up "it was just gonna be 'Adventures Of Cannibal And Cop'".
Chew's conceit -- a detective who gets psychic impressions from the stuff he eats, including dead bodies -- was always going to be kind of tricky. Throw in the disastrous potential for racebending and this could have been baaaad. But who knows? There are always a thousand considerations when it comes to why a TV project ever gets off the ground.

For what it's worth, I've talked with John Layman before, and he seemed pretty determined to preserve Tony Chu's Asian-ness if Chew did ever made the jump to movies or television. I'm still holding on to hope that fans will get to see that happen some day. But hell no to Kiefer.

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