Lionsgate instills 'Fear' into NBC


NBC has given the green light to "Fear Itself," a horror-anthology series from the producers of Showtime's "Masters of Horror."

The network has ordered 13 episodes of "Fear" to air in the summer.

Lionsgate, one of the biggest feature players in the horror genre, is co-producing "Fear" along with Industry Entertainment, the company behind "Masters of Horror" and the anthology series "Masters of Science Fiction," which aired this summer on ABC.

Like "Masters of Horror," which featured such well-known filmmakers in the genre as John Carpenter, Joe Dante, John Landis, Dario Argento, Takashi Miike and series creator Mick Garris, "Fear" will consist of 60-minute films by big-name horror writers and directors.

In scheduling the series during the summer, when broadcast networks launch mostly unscripted fare, NBC will try to capitalize on the strong popularity of horror movies during the summer blockbuster season.

"We're interested in trying new genres and having scripted programming that can work year-round in different time periods," said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "We're also trying to apply a different thinking in how we produce television through an alternative deal model."

In committing to more episodes of "Fear" upfront, NBC is paying a reduced license fee for the anthology series.

The budget of the show is still that of a high-end drama, so the network is getting quality scripted programming produced relatively quickly for a fraction of the cost.

For Lionsgate, in addition to landing a series on a major broadcast network, the 13-episode guarantee helps the company monetize the show on the international market and on DVD.

"This is a very entrepreneurial deal on all sides," said Kevin Beggs, president of television programming and production at Lionsgate. "For us, it's a great platform for our material drawn from our amazing horror brand."

The series also will draw on Lionsgate's deep bench of horror filmmaker talent, Beggs said. He credited Lionsgate president of acquisitions and co-productions Peter Block as one of the architects of the deal, along with Lionsgate TV COO Sandra Stern.

"Fear" is executive produced by Keith Addis, Andrew Deane and Garris, with Adam Goldworm and Ben Browning producing.

Production is slated to begin early next year.