Sci Fi stargazes at the future

Cable net casts lead roles in movies that could be series precursors

Sci Fi has found lead actors for "Riverworld" and "The Phantom," its upcoming movie events that will serve as trials for possible new series.

"Battlestar Galactica" veteran Tahmoh Penikett and "Smallville" supergirl Laura Vandervoort will star in "Riverworld," and Ryan Carnes ("Desperate Housewives") has been cast as the Phantom.

Penikett is best known for playing Helo on "Battlestar." In "Riverworld," he will play war correspondent Matt Ellman, who is killed along with his fiancee (Vandervoort) but awakens in a mysterious world populated by everyone who has lived on Earth.

Alan Cumming is set to guest star as the Caretaker; Jeananne Goossen and Mark Deklin also have been cast.

In "Phantom," Carnes will play the well-known comic book hero, and Isabella Rossellini will guest star as the villainous Lithia, who is overseeing a mind-control experiment. Additional "Phantom" cast members include Cameron Goodman and Sandrine Holt.

"Riverworld" and "Phantom" will air next year as four-hour movies on Sci Fi. Both are from RHI Entertainment and began production Monday.

A third RHI project for the cable network, "Alice," will air this year. (partialdiff)
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