Spike Puts Scripted Series 'Red Mars' on Hold Following Showrunner Exit

Peter Noah - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Peter Noah - Getty - H 2016

Spike is putting its first scripted series in nearly a decade on hold.

The Viacom-owned cable network has pressed pause on its forthcoming series Red Mars following the departure of showrunner Peter Noah, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

"We will continue to develop Red Mars with Skydance. The Red Mars trilogy is one of the most beloved modern-science-fiction properties, in part because of its tremendous scope and ambition," said Spike in a statement. "We are pausing to ensure we get the script right and to deliver fans what they want  a fantastic show that fully captures the spirit of these wonderful books."

An adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars trilogy, the series follows the first settlers charged with terraforming a mysterious planet, all of whom have competed to be a part of the mission. Red Mars delves into the lives of these relative strangers, cut off from everything they’ve ever known and living in the harshest environment imaginable. Over time, viewers will witness the mind-blowing evolution of humans and technology as they learn to adapt in their inhospitable new home.

J. Michael Straczynski (Sense8) will write the series. He also will executive produce with Vince Gerardis (Game of Thrones) and Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross. Skydance (Grace and Frankie, Manhattan) will produce in association with Straczynski's Studio JMS. Additionally, Robinson will consult on the series. Greg Yaitanes (House M.D.) came on board earlier this week as director and executive producer.

Red Mars was slated to begin production this summer for a 2017 premiere. Ten episodes had been ordered when the drama received a straight-to-series pickup in December.

This is the latest stumble for Spike in its push back into scripted. The network, which last aired a scripted series nine years ago, first ordered Harvest from Jerry Bruckheimer to series in August, but it pulled the plug in November.

When speaking with THR in February, Spike's executive vp Sharon Levy explained the change of heart. "They're great people; it was a great script," she said. "Some things just don't work out. That's the business."

However, Levy was much more optimistic about the promise of Red Mars, saying, "We need something that has a big hook to it that is unique, and that's what led to Red Mars."

The return to scripted follows Spike's success with the period miniseries Tut and is part of its efforts to branch beyond its largely male demographic.