Syfy Beefs Up Scripted Series Efforts


Syfy brass plans to trot out on stage at Tuesday’s upfront presentation to unveil its biggest original programming slate in the the network’s 18 year history.

Two years after using the Madison Ave.-focused platform to announce its name-change (from Sci Fi to Syfy), the NBC Universal-owned network is back this year to showcase a schedule that will now boast 14 new original series and events. The news follows continued ratings gains with primetime tune-in is up 13 percent in total viewers and 7 percent in the advertiser-beloved adults 18-49 demographic thus far this quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier.

In addition to its trio of reality show pickups, which The Hollywood Reporter first reported, the net will announce a slew of scripted projects, including Alphas, which will premiere in July alongside Warehouse 13, Eureka and Haven.

The series will follow a team of ordinary citizens whose brain anomalies give them with extraordinary mental and physical abilities. With those the group, led by Dr. Leigh Rosen (David Strathairn), band together to investigate cases that the CIA, FBI and Pentagon haven’t been able to crack. Malik Yoba, Warren Christie, Laura Mennell, Ryan Cartwright and Azita Ghanizada fill out the Alphas cast, with Universal Cable Productions and BermanBraun Television on board to co-produce the series.

Among the half-hour comedy entries in development are Three Inches, about an underachiever named Walter Spackman, who is struck by lightning and develops a unique "super" power: the ability to move any object using just his mind at a distance of three inches. The project, from Fox Television Studios, is being written by Harley Peyton (Twin Peaks).

Joining Inches in the development pipeline is In the Dark, which follows a misfit group of wannabe ghost hunters. The project, which hails from Universal Cable Productions, is based on a teleplay by Michael Davidoff and Bill Rosenthal.

Filling out the trio of potential scripted efforts is Me and Lee, about a down on his luck twentysomething whose botched back surgery turns him into a bionic man. In a made-for-TV twist, he becomes a mentor to others looking to get their life in order. A Lionsgate production comes from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan.

Finally, Syfy is prepping Battlestar: Blood & Chrome, a scripted drama with Luke Pasqualino (U.K.'s Skins) and Ben Cotton (Hellcats) tapped to star. The Universal Cable Prods. production, which is set in the 10th year of the first Cylon war, comes from executive producers David Eick and Michael Taylor.

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