April 24, 2012 1:06pm PT by THR Staff
Upfronts 2012: Syfy Adds Stephen King, Mark Burnett Projects in Record Commitment to Original Fare
Syfy is upping its commitment to original programming after its scoring its most-watched first-quarter in history among total viewers.
The network on Tuesday during its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York announced a robust slate featuring a record 28 scripted and reality projects in development as well as six unscripted series orders including one from Mark Burnett.
In addition to its eight unscripted projects in the works, The NBCUniversal-owned cable network -- which also recorded its best first quarter in the adults 18-39 demographic -- also put a longform effort from Stephen King and eight drama projects in its development pipeline.
A look at Syfy's full slate follows.
NEW SCRIPTED SERIES
• Defiance – 2013 – Defianceis in collaboration with Trion Worlds, with the Syfy series and Trion’s multi-platform shooter MMO poised to debut simultaneously. The series stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Fionnula Flanagan, Mia Kirshnerand Oscar-nominee Graham Greene. Set in the near future,Defianceintroduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. Forced to co-habitate, the disparate group struggles to build a new society among the devastation. The dramatic tapestry of the series and the intense action of the game will exist in a single universe where their respective narratives will inform one another and evolve together into one overall story. Defianceis directed by Scott Stewart (Legion, Priest) and written/executive produced by Rockne O’Bannon (Farscape), Kevin Murphy (Desperate Housewives,Caprica,Hellcats) and Michael Taylor (Battlestar Galactica). Kevin Murphy serves as showrunner.Defianceis produced by Universal Cable Productions.
NEW REALITY SERIES
• School Spirits –Premieres June 2012– SchoolSpiritswill tell true ghost stories of hauntings that have happened at schools across the country. The stories will be told in first person narratives through the testimonials of real students, teachers, parents and staff that have encountered the paranormal activity, blended with bone-chilling cinematic reenactments to further bring the haunting experiences to life. Executive producers: Mark Burnett (Survivor,The Apprentice) and Seth Jarrett & Julie InsognaJarrett (Celebrity Ghost Stories).
• Paranormal Highway– Summer 2012– Paranormal Highway puts the pedal to the metal as Jack Osbourne and Dana Workman investigate the most frightening claims of paranormal activity along America’s remote back roads. Fueled by eyewitness interviews and evidence collected by state-of-the-art equipment, Jack and Dana will travel alone, self-documenting their harrowing road trip while coming face-to-face with paranormal legends. Production company: BASE Productions. Executive producers:John Brenkus, Mickey Stern, Ron Ziskin.
• Collection Intervention – Collection Interventionfollows Elyse Luray, a sharp and to-the-point collectibles expert as she helps couples who are divided over what to do with an overwhelming collection of memorabilia. Whether it’s a husband’s collection of mint-condition G.I. JOE action figures worth thousands of dollars or a girlfriend’s treasure trove ofStar Warsmovie posters, Elyse helps couples decide what’s worth keeping and what they can sell. For each couple, their new cash windfall will make their dream come true, whether it’s an engagement ring, a down payment for a home, or the honeymoon they never had. Production company: High Noon Entertainment. Executive producers:Pam Healey, Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees,Jim Berger.
• Hot Set– From the producers ofSyfy’s hit seriesFace Off, Hot Setis an extreme design challenge pitting two Hollywood production designers each week in a head-to-head battle to design, build, decorate and ultimately create an original and signature movie set that transports the viewer into an immersive world. Production company: Mission Control Media. Executive producers: Michael Agbabian and Dwight Smith.
• Viral Video Showdown– The greatest viral video creators on the planet go head-to-head each week in an epic battle for bragging rights and a cash prize. Two teams will have to dig deep into their bag of viral tricks to create a video that best captures that week’s theme and impresses the expert panel of viral video judges.Production company: 495 Productions. Executive producers: SallyAnn Salsano, Kevin Pereira.
• Ghost Mine –In the remote woods of Oregon lays one of the richest gold mines in the United States. For the last 100 years, it has remained abandoned -- until now. Soon to be re-opened by a scraggly group of miners, these hardy souls will battle the elements to find their fortune. But with a rich history of paranormal activity surrounding the mine, they may just find something else.Production company: 51 Minds.Executive producer: Mark Cronin.
• Rewind – Rewindrevolves around a team of military field operatives and civilian scientists who must use untested technology to travel back in time to alter events and change the future -- and avoid a devastating terrorist attack. Shane McRae stars as Sean Knox, ex-Special Forces who ranks as a field operative in a special division of the Department of Homeland Security. The pilot also stars Jennifer Ferrin, Academy Award nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), Robbie Jones and Keon Mohajeri, and is currently in production in Toronto. Jack Bender (Lost,Alphas) is directing the pilot, written by Justin Marks (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), who will also executive produce with Tom Spezialy, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein. A production of BermanBraun and Universal Cable Productions.
• The Adjustment Bureau– In this drama, based on the hit movie starring Matt Damon, guardian angel-type agents work to keep the world according to The Plan. They create everything from plane crashes to coffee spills in order to steer people to realize their true destiny. But there is one thing the operatives and their Chairman can’t control -- free will. Writers: Todd Slavkin & Darren Swimmer (Melrose Place, Smallville). Executive producers: George Nolfi (The Adjustment Bureau, The Bourne Ultimatum), MRC, Slavkin and Swimmer. A production of Universal Cable Productions.
• High Moon– Based on the novel,The Lotus Caves, by John Christopher, this imaginative, out-of-this-world series explores a world where the countries of Earth have established colonies to mine the Moon's resources. When a new life form is discovered, chaos erupts as various factions race to uncover its powerful secrets. Executive producer: Bryan Fuller (Hannibal,Pushing Daisies). Co-executive producer: Jim Danger Gray (Pushing Daisies). Writers: Bryan Fuller and Jim Danger Gray. Executive producer: Granat Entertainment. A production of Universal Cable Productions.
• Untitled Booster Gold Project– Based on the best-selling DC Entertainment Comic, this is the story of a washed-up athlete from the future who travels back to the present in hopes of becoming the greatest superhero of all time. But instead of chasing criminals, his main priority is chasing fame and money. Booster Gold discovers that being a hero takes more than just a megawatt smile. Writer: Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow, Warehouse 13). Executive producers: Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern, Arrow) and Andrew Kreisberg. Producers: Greg Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television. TheBooster Goldcomic book series is published by DC Entertainment, which will also act as an executive producer.
• Grave Sight– From the best-selling author ofTrue Blood, this Charlaine Harris book series follows Harper Connelly – a young woman with a unique gift.After being struck by lightning as a teenager, Harper can sense the location and last memories of dead people. She teams up with her protective stepbrother, Tolliver Lang, to help find a missing teenage girl -- only to uncover a network of lies and murders throughout a small town in the Ozarks. Writer: Kam Miller (Law and Order: SVU). A production of Universal Cable Productions.
• Seeing Things– Based on the comicGrey Legionfrom Platinum Studios, after a cop meets his violent demise, he returns as a ghost to close his last case. But the only person who can help him is a socially awkward man who is realizing for the first time that his hallucinations may not be all in his head. Writers: David Slack (Person of Interest,Lie To Me) and Gabrielle Stanton (Haven, The Vampire Diaries). Executive producers: David Slack, Robert Cort and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. A production of Fox Television Studios.
• Defender– In the aftermath of an intergalactic war between humans and transhumans, the starship Defender, populated by a combustible mix of former enemies, is sent on a seemingly simple goodwill mission, which turns into a fight for their lives and for the safety of the Universe at large. Executive producer/writer: Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Alphas). A production of Universal Cable Productions.
• The Family– For generations, an alien family has hid amongst humans in plain sight using their advanced intellect to carve out a life for themselves as their family grew. But when the family patriarch that kept peace amongst the factions dies, a war begins to brew with some members believing the time has come to reveal themselves, and their superior power, to the inferior human race. Writer: Dan Harris (Superman Returns, X2). Executive producers: Neal Moritz (21 Jump Street, Total Recall), Mark Verheiden (Falling Skies, Battlestar Galactica). A production of Sony Pictures TV.
LONGFORM SCRIPTED DEVELOPMENT
• Eyes Of The Dragon– Based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel. A kingdom is in turmoil as the old king dies and his successor must battle for the throne. Pitted against an evil wizard and a would-be rival, Prince Peter makes a daring escape and rallies the forces of good to fight for what is rightfully his. Writers: Michael Taylor (Defiance, Battlestar Galactica) and Jeff Vintar (I, Robot). Executive producers: Michael Taylor andBill Haber. A production of Universal Cable Productions and Ostar Productions.
• Darkfall– When, without warning, modern forms of power and technology become a thing of the past, Los Angeles, and the world at large, becomes a place where magic rules and life as we know it is turned upside down. Writers: Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Kung Fu Panda, Sleeper Cell). A production of The Jim Henson Company and Universal Cable Productions.
• One Mile Straight Down– When a powerful earthquake hits California and opens up a chasm bigger than the Grand Canyon, it reveals an enormous hidden ocean lying deep beneath the earth’s crust. Billionaire adventurer James Exeter works with the government to take an advanced nuclear submarine down to explore it and discovers more than he ever could have imagined. Writers: Skip Woods (X-Men Origins:Wolverine), Naren Shankar (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)and Deran Sarafian (CSI: NY). Executive producers: Skip Woods, Naren Shankar and Deran Sarafian. A production of Universal Cable Productions.
(the following join the eight previously announced projects)
• The Genie–The Geniefollows Steve Sims and his extreme concierge company, Blue Fish, as they make outlandish experiences and imaginative adventures come to life for their clients. Whether it’s rebuilding the chocolate river from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory or experiencing life as a Hobbit, making the impossible possible is the job of “The Genie.” Production company: Smart Dog Media. Executive producer: Craig Plestis.
• Stranded– In each episode of this frightening paranormal social experiment, a family or group of friends moves into an infamously haunted location, self-documenting their experience in total isolation.Production company: Ping Pong Productions. Executive producers: Brad Kuhlman, Casey Brummels, Josh Gates.
• Awesome Foundation– In this new project starringDestination Truth’s Josh Gates, each week inventors, artists and regular people from all over the country pitch their amazing and imaginative ideas to the Awesome Foundation, a group dedicated to turning awesome ideas into awesome reality. The members grant their own money to the lucky three people with the best ideas, leading to a race to complete the projects in the given time and budget.Production company: Idiot Box Productions.Executive producer:Dan Taberski.
• Exit– Based on the hit Japanese format,Exitis a nail-biting game show where two teams of contestants battle to escape three diabolical rooms. To do so, they must beat the clock while solving rapid-fire brain games and navigating booby-traps and bottomless pits. Production company: Zig Zag Productions. Executive producer: Danny Fenton.
• Buyer Beware– What does someone do when they need to sell their house -- but it’s haunted? They call in a real estate professional who specializes in matching haunted properties with eager buyers. In each episode, viewers will see what it takes to sell a home -- still occupied by the spirits -- and what kind of buyers have the guts to take it off the market. Production company: Zodiak USA. Executive producers:Natalka Znak, Claire O’Donohue.
• Untitled Mark Burnett Project(wt) – From acclaimed producer Mark Burnett comes a competition show where fans of science fiction/fantasy books and movies compete to create the most flavorful and inspired dishes from the foods featured in the imaginary worlds that they love. Production company: Mark Burnett Productions. Executive producer: Mark Burnett.
• Deadfinder– When the morgue drawer closes on a Jane or John Doe, rarely is it reopened. Deadfinder follows a group of mediums as they search through the vaults of cold cases using their paranormal skills to bring the mysteries of the murdered back to life. Production company: NorthSouth. Executive producers:Charlie DeBevoise, Mark Hickman.
• Ghost Town, USA– Settled in 1677, Mount Holly, New Jersey, is a town teeming with reports of paranormal activity. And for the residents of this town, that’s just the way they like it.Ghost Town, USAfollows the colorful characters and real drama that plays out among the town’s living residents, from renovating a haunted house to organizing the annual Witches Ball. Production company: Cream Productions. Executive producers: David Brady, Christopher Rowley.
• The Wrights –Joe and Chris Wright are relatives of the famous Wright Brothers, but instead of building airplanes, this father-and-son-duo build paranormal contraptions to communicate with the dead. Each week the show follows the Wrights as they use their inventing ability to gain answers from the “other side.” Production company: Jarrett Creative Group. Executive producers: Julie Insogna Jarrett, Seth Jarrett.