Syfy AI Drama Pilot Casts Young Leads

Gabriel Bateman and Kyla-Drew Simmons will star in 'Cipher,' from writer Allison Miller.
Jeff Vespa; Deidre Fahey
Gabriel Bateman, Kyla-Drew Simmons

Syfy's pilot Cipher, about a boy whose brain is implanted with secret technology, has cast its teenage leads.

Gabriel Bateman and Kyla-Drew Simmons will star in the Universal Content Productions pilot, about a 13-year-old video game junkie who finds himself with top-secret military tech inside his head. 

Bateman (Outcast, the upcoming Child's Play reboot) will play Asa, the boy at the center of the story. Following the death of his mother, his life changes yet again when he becomes the unwitting recipient of the new technology. He and his father then find themselves at the center of the next great war — over artificial intelligence.

Simmons (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn) plays Annie, a 16-year-old that Asa meets inside a video game. Annie seems to know a great deal about the game, but has little understanding of the complexities of human relationships or the outside world.

Cipher (a working title) is one of two pilots Syfy recently ordered — both of which center on teen characters. The other, the dark comedy (Future) Cult Classic, has also set its teen cast, led by Emily Alyn Lind. Syfy is also developing a Chucky series separate from the Child's Play feature film with Bateman. 

Allison Miller (CBS All Access' Strange Angel), who has an overall deal with UCP, is writing and executive producing Cipher. David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Brandon James are also exec producing through Rough House Pictures. Peter Hoar (Umbrella Academy) is set to direct the pilot.

Cipher and (Future) Cult Classic are aiming for spots on a Syfy roster that includes The Magicians, Deadly Class, Krypton, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp and Happy. The cable network recently canceled Channel Zero, Z Nation and The Expanse (which moved to Amazon) and will say goodbye to Killjoys after its fifth season. Nightflyers, based on a George R.R. Martin novella, is in limbo after airing as a limited series in December.