April 10, 2013 1:49pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Syfy Orders Horror Anthology From Jamie Foxx, Developing Pair of Miniseries
As Syfy prepares for its big-swing series Defiance, the NBCUniversal-owned cable network announced an ambitious slate of scripted and reality efforts as it prepared to present its fare to Madison Avenue advertisers Wednesday night.
A year after announcing a robust lineup with eight dramas and six new unscripted offerings, Syfy handed out a series order for a horror anthology series from Jamie Foxx as well as a fourth-season renewal for Being Human and announced development on two sci-fi miniseries, a series adaptation of comic The Test, three new reality series, the start of production on a scripted pilot from Hannibal's Bryan Fuller and the return of Ghost Mine, in addition to six other scripted dramas.
The Foxx vehicle hails from the Ray Oscar winner and his Foxxhole Productions banner. The untitled five-episode horror anthology -- in the vein of The Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt -- is a half-hour series that explores themes including envy, jealousy and superficiality. Foxx will write, direct and executive produce the Universal Cable Productions series set to bow in October during Syfy's annual 31 Days of Halloween.
"This is a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m so happy to see it come to life," Foxx said. "Get ready to lose it when some special friends and I bring the scares this October, and who knows … maybe I’ll make a guest appearance or two along the way!"
Troy Miller (Flight of the Conchords) will executive produce via his Dakota Pictures. Terminator: Salvation's Mike Ferris and Army Wives' John Pogue will pen the project with writer Jeff Stilson, Jamie King and Julie Yorn also are on board to exec produce.
For its part, Being Human was picked up for a fourth season mere days after it wrapped season three, with executives calling the adaptation of the British drama "a signature series" for Syfy. Including Live+7 figures, the third season averaged 1.8 million total viewers and won its time period in adults 18-to-49 and 25-to-54.
Ahead of this month's debut of Defiance, the most expensive series in the cable network's history with a price tag of $100 million, Syfy is adapting a pair of classic sci-fi novels -- Larry Niven's Ringworld and Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End -- as miniseries. Both projects join the previously announced shortform entries The Man in the High Castle from Ridley Scott, Stephen King's Eyes of the Dragon and Jim Henson Productions' Darkfall.
Ringworld is being eyed as a four-hour miniseries and hails from MGM Television and corporate studio Universal Cable Productions. William S. Todman Jr. and Edward Milstein will executive produce with Michael Perry (The River) on board to adapt the book.
Childhood's End hails from Michael DeLuca (The Social Network) and Universal Cable Productions.
"We’re proud to bring to life these science fiction masterpieces, Ringworld and Childhood’s End. With their brilliant scope of imagination, the astonishing visions of these two novels created riveting possibilities into the future of humanity which remain timely and provocative," Syfy original content president and co-head of original content at UCP Mark Stern said.
In addition to developing scripted vehicles from Paranormal Activity's Jason Blum and The Walking Dead's Gale Anne Hurd, Syfy is teaming with Fox Television Studios, Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke to adapt Matt Hawkins and Joshua Hale Fialkov's Top Cow comic The Test.
The potential series centers on a high-tech gated community that finds itself cut off from the rest of reality -- where nothing exists beyond their walls. One man has contact with the powers responsible for what is known as "The Rift" and must lead his residents beyond the void to discover the truth.
Circle of Confusion -- which also produces AMC's The Walking Dead -- will produce No Place with Dead EP David Alpert and Rick Jacobs on board to exec produce. Hawkins and Marc Silvestri will exec produce for comic publisher Top Cow. Feature writers John Brancato and Ferris will pen the script for FTVS with Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine on board to produce.
"We are very excited to be in business with this amazing A-list team,” Stern said. “We look forward to them bringing their high-quality feature-level sensibility to this taut sci-fi drama.”
Meanwhile, Syfy ordered Fuller's High Moon to pilot in August and on Wednesday announced production would begin on the adaptation of John Christopher's best-seller from Universal Cable Productions. Jim Danger Gray (Hannibal) will work alongside Fuller on the project.
“In the hands of visionary Bryan Fuller and this outstanding production team, High Moon will be an imaginative, groundbreaking story featuring complex characters in a high-stakes drama," Stern said. "This represents our commitment to quality programming that redefines the genre and we’re excited to begin production.”
On the unscripted side, Syfy has renewed Ghost Mine for a second season of 12 episodes and set a September return for the paranormal entry after the first run became a top 10 series in adults 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 on Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Joining Ghost Mine, Face Off and Ghost Hunters on Syfy's 2013 schedule are three new unscripted entries: Joe Rogan Questions Everything, Cosworld and Fandemonium.
Here's a closer look at the network's upcoming projects:
Ringworld (miniseries development)
A hastily assembled team of explorers travels to the farthest reaches of space to investigate a mind-blowing alien artifact called Ringworld – an artificial habitat the size of one million Earths. As they crash-land on this enormous structure, they discover the remnants of ancient civilizations, technology beyond their wildest dreams, mysteries that shed light on the very origins of man and, most important, a possible salvation for a doomed Earth.
Childhood's End (miniseries development)
The series follows a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war and turns the planet into a near-utopia.
Joe Rogan Questions Everything (unscripted series, premieres July 16 at 9 p.m.)
Life-long unexplained paranormal mystery-addict Joe Rogan ventures into unknown worlds and untapped territories to search for answers to life’s most startling theories. Having explored these questions for years on his podcast, Rogan now takes his journey to the next level, traveling the country and knocking on any door necessary to find the truth. In his own unique and inquisitive style, Rogan will stop at nothing to quench his curiosity for the unknown. Production company: A. Smith & Co. Executive producers: Arthur Smith, Joe Rogan, Kent Weed, Frank Sinton, Michael Braverman, Tod Mesirow, Barry Bloom, Jeff Sussman and Chandra Keyes.
Cosworld (unscripted series, premieres Aug. 27 at 10 p.m.)
This tantalizing six-episode docuseries lifts the veil on the imaginative world of cosplay competition. The series follows some of the hottest cosplay stars as they make a splash at comic book conventions around the country. The show dives deep into their lives, following their process as they create extravagant and visually arresting costumes each week. These individuals will constantly defy odds and race against the clock to transform themselves into amazing fictional characters that push the boundaries between fantasy and reality, all in hopes of impressing the convention judges to win a cash prize and the chance to become a cosplay legend. Production company: 51 Minds, an Endemol Company. Executive producers: Mark Cronin, Courtland Cox and Dave Caplan.
Fandemonium (unscripted series, premieres fall 2013)
From the producer of Jersey Shore comes this six-part docuseries that celebrates the incredibly unique, often misunderstood and infinitely fascinating fan girl and fan boy culture. Living together in an L.A. apartment complex, a tight-knit group of pop culture-obsessed fans continue to find their place in the world and flourish, thanks to their passions and personalities. Whether it’s being first in line for the latest blockbuster, making a lasting impression upon getting the chance to meet their heroes, or just figuring out how to balance their passions with making a living – when these friends get together, it’s flat out Fandemonium. Production company: 495 Productions. Executive producer: SallyAnn Salsano.
NEW REALITY SERIES DEVELOPMENT
Opposite Worlds is based on the mega-sensation Latin American reality series Mundos Opuestos, in which 20 people from all walks of life are mixed together in two opposing teams that live in two distinctly different worlds – the Past and the Future. The Future is a Utopia where every wish can be granted with a push of a button; the Past is a constant struggle for survival. Each week, players compete in a series of challenges to determine who lives in the Past and who lives in the Future, and fight to be the last man standing. Production company: Smart Dog Media. Executive producer: Craig Plestis. Format devised by Canal 13, Sergio Nakasone, Juan Pablo Planas and Veronica Ruaro.
Based on The Death Race, an extreme endurance race held annually in Vermont, Unbreakable sets to test competitors’ inner resolve to persevere through mental and physical extremes. Nothing is as it seems in this competition, where contestants must navigate a seemingly natural but altered environment full of obstacles and challenges. Testing each individual’s spirit to its limit, the contestants will either self-eliminate or fall by the wayside, until only one will remain to conquer all. Production company: Pilgrim Studios. Executive producers: Craig Piligian and Joe Desena
The Jim Henson Creature Shop
For generations the craftsmen at The Jim Henson Creature Shop have brought to life imaginative, lovable and memorable characters that have enthralled audiences around the world. Now, aspiring creature makers will have an opportunity to win the job of a lifetime -- an apprenticeship with the Creature Shop. Teams of amateur creators will face off to build elaborate and awe-inspiring creatures, ranging from animatronic monsters and fantastical puppets, to life-like beasts and beyond! Creations are judged by Brian Henson -- son of Jim Henson and chairman of the Henson empire -- along with top industry experts. Executive producers: Brian Henson (The Jim Henson Company) and Joseph Freed.
Meat Loaf Rocks the Paranormal (working title)
This show features rock legend Meat Loaf and his colorful but divided family of skeptics and believers. Unlike the typical family vacation, Meat Loaf, his two daughters and rock star son-in-law Scott Ian of Anthrax travel to America’s most haunted and famous locations to settle the family’s paranormal debate. Production company: Thinkfactory Media. Executive producers: Adam Reed, Adam Freeman and Leslie Greif.
The Gadget Show
Based on the popular U.K. series, The Gadget Show previews and reviews the latest technological gadgets fit for mass consumers. Traveling around the globe, the show’s gadget-obsessed hosts highlight the coolest tech trends, world premiere inventions and engineers of the future. Mixing in-studio segments with out-in-the-world product testing, the hosts perform adrenaline-fueled stunts to determine the quality of the hottest new devices about to be put on the market. Production company: All3Media America/North One Television. Executive producers: Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and Ewan Keil.
Dead Famous (working title)
When celebrities die before their time, questions often are left unanswered with their loved ones and fans. Dead Famous sets out to find answers to those questions and to provide closure via a live seance, led by a medium and with friends, family and paranormal investigators in attendance. Leading up to the seance, the Dead Famous host will visit the celebrity’s private locations and collect personal items, which will then be used to help make contact. Production company: Smart Dog Media. Executive producers: Craig Plestis, Guiliana Rancic and Colet Abedi.
Graveyard Shift follows Josh Gates as he journeys alongside people whose extreme jobs and bizarre lives start after the sun goes down. Whether holding the night guard position at a notoriously haunted graveyard in Baltimore, installing neon lights in the most extreme skyscraper in the Chicago skyline, or journeying through mysterious underground tunnels with a city’s public works department, Gates will battle his fears and imagination while venturing to places where few dare to go. Production company: Discovery Studios. Executive producers: Josh Gates, Eddie Barbini, and Gary Shapiro.
Make Me a Millionaire Inventor
Based on the British series, Make Me a Millionaire Inventor follows a team of engineers and scientists as they hunt through the U.S. Patent Office for the best inventions -- never made -- to make inventors’ dreams come true. The show will pick different patents each week and track down the original inventors to surprise them with the offer of a lifetime: a chance to finally bring their idea to fruition. The team will then coach the inventors as they prepare to pitch a working prototype to industry pioneers -- in hopes of making the most important sale of their lives. Production company: Objective Productions/Kalel Productions/All3Media America. Executive producers: Nick Parnes, Andrew O’Connor and Eli Holzman.