Syfy makes 'Alphas' pickup

Action pilot from writers Zak Penn and Michael Karnow

Syfy has given the green light to the 90-minute action-adventure pilot "Alphas," bringing a happy ending to the project's two-year roller-coaster ride.

"Alphas," which follows a team of ordinary citizens who possess hyperdeveloped neurological abilities, hails from writers Zak Penn ("X-Men: The Last Stand") and Michael Karnow and BermanBraun Television.

In its original incarnation as "Section 8," the drama was first taken to NBC through BermanBraun's first-look deal there. After the network passed, the project sparked heated bidding among the other broadcast networks in summer 2007, landing at ABC with a six-episode production order for a possible midseason launch behind "Lost."

The show was in preproduction, with writing on the first episode under way, when the WGA strike brought work to a halt.

After the strike, ABC's plans for "Section 8" had to be altered. And creative differences over the show's sci-fi elements, with which ABC is said to have been uncomfortable, led to the project's departure from the network.

Meanwhile, Syfy brass had been looking to get in business with Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun, who suggested "Section 8."

"What we loved about this idea is that it played into a new way of approaching the superhero genre: the idea of ordinary people who have one slightly extraordinary feature about them and are singularly not so special but together can do extraordinary things was very attractive," Syfy executive vp original programming Mark Stern said.

"Section 8," now "Alphas," went through some redevelopment at Syfy and Universal Cable Prods. and was among three projects the network considered for a pilot pickup. It ultimately went with "Alphas," bringing the project, which originated at NBC Uni, full circle.

ABC Studios, which produced "Section 8" while it was at ABC, retains a small ownership stake.

"We're thrilled this has remained in the NBC Universal family," Braun said. "Being at Syfy allows Zak and Michael to really take their gloves off and explore this arena no-holds-barred."