Skydance TV Inks Overall Deal With 'Friday Night Lights' Producers

Patrick Massett and John Zinman will serve as showrunners on the 'Sword Art Online' TV show.
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John Zinman, Patrick Massett

Skydance Television is inking an overall deal with writer-producers Patrick Massett and John Zinman.

The pair, whose credits include Friday Night Lights, The Blacklist and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, have several projects in development with the studio. Among them is the first-ever live-action television series for Sword Art Online (SAO), the Japanese novel and anime franchise Skydance acquired the global rights to last year.

Massett and Zinman will serve as writers, showrunners and executive producers on the series. Together with Massett and Zinman, Laeta Kalogridis (Avatar, Altered Carbon) will write the pilot episode and serve as an executive producer alongside David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross. Kalogridis, who has an exclusive overall deal at Skydance, introduced the studio to the property and the world of SAO. 

"Patrick and John have shown incredible range in their storytelling capabilities, from subtle character drama to big, world-building action, and we are beyond fortunate that they have joined the Skydance family," said Skydance Television president Marcy Ross. "We're already deep in development with Patrick, John and Laeta on our larger-than-life Skydance SAO series in which we aim not only to satisfy the franchise's enthusiastic sci-fi and anime fan base but also to appeal to new TV audiences the world over."

"The fantastical world of SAO offers an unparalleled opportunity to tell stories that resonate on both an epic and human scale. We couldn't ask for better partners than Skydance and Laeta to help us bring this global pop culture phenomenon to new life on television," said Massett and Zinman in a joint statement. 

Skydance's SAO series will follow brilliant young beta tester Kirito and his group of friends when they are trapped, along with 10,000 other people, in a next-generation virtual reality online role-playing game filled with sword-fighting, monsters and mystery. 

Massett and Zinman's TV careers began with Veritas: The Quest at ABC, which they co-created and executive produced before going on to co-executive produce Friday Night Lights, The Chicago Code and Last Resort. The duo then co-executive produced NBC's The Blacklist. They also worked on NBC's short-lived series The Player. They first got their start in film by co-writing Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Their most recent film, Gold, was released in January 2017, and Resistance and Sea of Thunder are in preproduction. 

Skydance Television's current slate includes six series across several networks. The studio has recently entered into overall and first-look deals with talent that includes Sam Raimi, Marti Noxon, Michael B. Jordan, Bonnie Curtis and Julie Lynn. 

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