FtvS, overseas b'casters lift off for space series


Fox TV Studios has teamed with the BBC, Canada's CTV and Germany's ProSieben for "Defying Gravity," a 13-episode adventure drama series starring Ron Livingston.

"Gravity," which hails from creator/exec producer James Parriott ("Grey's Anatomy") and exec producer Michael Edelstein ("Desperate Housewives"), is set in the near future and revolves around eight astronauts from five countries who take on a mysterious six-year mission through the solar system. German actress Florentine Lahme also has been cast in "Gravity," a co-venture between FtvS and Omni Film Prods.

David Straiton has signed on to direct the first episode of the series, which is slated to begin production Jan. 19 in Vancouver.

"Gravity" marks the third independently produced FtvS series to go into production this year with international broadcasting partners. It follows "Mental," a collaboration with Fox International Channels that is filming in Bogota, Colombia, and "Persons Unknown," shooting in Mexico City in conjunction with Televisa and Italy's RAI. The budget for all three total exceeds $70 million.

"We got three out of three going to 13 episodes," FtvS chief Emiliano Calemzuk said. "It's a batting average that the traditional producing model doesn't get to see very often."

As with its other internationally produced series, FtvS will be shopping "Gravity" to U.S. networks as a finished product. Having strong international presales gives FtvS flexibility and a relatively low threshold of an U.S. license fee that would make its series profitable.

On Christmas 2006, Edelstein caught a repeat of the BBC docu-drama "Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets" on Discovery.

"I was blown away by it," Edelstein said. He acquired the rights to it from British producer Impossible Pictures and approached Parriott, with whom he worked on "Threat Matrix," about developing a series based on the premise for the international market.

Parriott, a sci-fi geek at heart who worked on the original "Bionic Woman," was taken with it. "Throw in a little bit of 'Grey's' and 'Lost' and you have a pretty good international TV show," he said.

Edelstein then took the idea to Calemzuk, with whom he had a relationship going back to the FtvS chief's tenure at FIC Italy.

Livingston is repped by Endeavor, ThruLine and attorney Adam Kaller. (partialdiff)