'Nightflyers' Showrunner Exits Syfy's George R.R. Martin Drama (Exclusive)

Daniel Cerone - Getty - H 2018
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There's a change at the top of Syfy's upcoming space drama Nightflyers.

Showrunner Daniel Cerone, who boarded the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's novella when it was officially picked up to series in January, has exited the drama. Sources say Cerone stepped away from the series after creative differences. He is developing other genre fare with Nightflyers producers Universal Cable Productions.

Exec producer Jeff Buhler, who penned the script to bring Nightflyers to TV, will take over as showrunner. 12 Monkeys showrunner Terry Matalas, who has the final season of the Syfy drama coming up this year, was brought in briefly to consult on the series.

Nightflyers is, without question, a big swing for Syfy. The drama, based on Martin's 1980 novella and the 1987 film of the same name, follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of the solar system aboard The Nightflyer — a ship with a small tight-knit crew and a reclusive captain — in hopes of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place, they start to question each other, and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought.

Early in the process, Syfy brought in Netflix as a co-producer on what sources say is the most expensive drama the NBCUniversal-owned cable network has ever developed. Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) stars in the series, with Netflix having first-run rights to the show outside of the U.S. Netflix's involvement has helped the studio offset the costs associated with producing the ambitious space-set series. The Ireland-produced drama also received financial support from the government of Ireland through the minister for culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Irish Film Board.

The series was fast-tracked after being put in development in May, picked up to pilot in June with Netflix boarding in September, helping to get the ambitious drama picked up to series. The cast was formally announced in January along with the official pickup, which is when Cerone was brought in as showrunner.

Buhler (Jacob's Ladder) penned the script and executive produces the UCP drama alongside Hypnotic's Gene Klein (Suits), David Bartis (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and Doug Liman (Suits); Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta (Jacob's Ladder) of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films; and Lloyd Ivan Miller and Alice P. Neuhauser of Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions. Robert Jaffe, who penned the feature film based on Martin's novel, is set as a producer, too. Andrew McCarthy will be a producer-director on the project. Mike Cahill will direct the pilot.

Martin will be credited as an exec producer, though he is not expected to have a heavy hand in Nightflyers given his overall deal with HBO, where he's currently co-writing two of the four potential Game of Thrones follow-ups in the works.

Cerone's credits include The Blacklist, Motive, Constantine, The Mentalist, Dexter, Dirty Sexy Money and Charmed, among others. He's with WME.