EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer David Semel has joined Fox’s 13-part docu-series Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, which is executive produced by Seth MacFarlane. Additionally, I hear the project, a sequel to Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking 1980 series, will also get a film treatment with an IMAX release. Semel is slated to direct all 13 episodes of the series as well as the related Cosmos feature. He also is expected to serve as an executive producer alongside MacFarlane, Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and Mitchell Cannold, president of the Ithaca, NY-based Cosmos Studio, which will produce the series for Fox, with a second window on National Geographic. MacFarlane conceived the Cosmos redo with Sagan’s original collaborators – writer/producer Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter, with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stepping in for Sagan as new host.
Like the 1980s series, which featured jaw-dropping for its time visual effects that allowed Sagan to walk through space, the new series and its big-screen offshoot also are expected to employ the latest special effects that should play especially well on the IMAX screens. Semel has experience blending narrative and visual effects, having directed the pilots for 2 superhero drama series, NBC’s Heroes and ABC’s No Ordinary Family. Cosmos reunites Semel with Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who ran NBC when Semel directed the pilots for the network series Heroes and Life. WME-repped Semel most recently helmed the pilot for CBS’ high-profile new drama series Person of Interest and, in a rare episodic stint, he is set to direct the much-buzzed-about 2-part Halloween episode of Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk’s new FX horror series American Horror Story, which features another Heroes alum, actor Zachary Quinto.
Fox today released a detailed broadcast schedule for the first season of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor, which launches with a two-night premiere Sept. 21 and Sept. 22. Live performance shows will begin Nov. 2, coinciding with the start of … Read More »
After recently signing on to reboot one classic TV show, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, Seth MacFarlane is taking on another iconic TV series, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Fox has greenlighted Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, a 13-part docu-series from Family Guy creator MacFarlane and late Sagan’s original collaborators – his widow, writer/producer Ann Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter. Envisioned as a successor to the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original 13-part program, which was hosted by Sagan, the new Cosmos series will be hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Underscoring MacFarlane’s commercial appeal, Cosmos will air on Fox in primetime, something pretty unprecedented these days for a science documentary series on commercial American television. (The original series aired on PBS.) Fox will air Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in 2013, which is also when the network will launch MacFarlane’s Flintstones reboot. National Geographic Channel, which will co-produce Cosmos, will air a same-night encore of the episodes following their broadcast on Fox. The project is being done outside of MacFarlane’s overall deal with 20th Century fox TV. “Never more than at this moment in the modern era have we needed a profound reminder of the colossally important and exciting role that science, space exploration and the human quest for knowledge must continue to play in our development as a species,” MacFarlane said. “We should be vigorously exploring the solar system by now, and who better to inspire us to get there than Ann Druyan, Steven Soter, Neil deGrasse Tyson and, of course, Carl Sagan.”
A self-professed geek, MacFarlane hit it off with Druyan after the two met at a function some time ago. When she shared with him the idea for a new Cosmos series, MacFarlane immediately sparked to it and set up a meeting with Peter Rice, entertainment chairman of Fox where MacFarlane has 3 series on the air, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad. That happened about a year ago, and after lengthy negotiations, Fox just closed all deals for the project to go forward. In September 2010, MacFarlane and Druyan appeared together on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher where they shared their concern about the growing anti-science sentiment in American society, something Druyan attributed to “the failure of public education,” which has “compartmentalized science to 20-40 boring minutes a week, maybe taught by a gym teacher.” That is a far cry from the way her late husband approached science. “Carl believed that science belongs to all of us,” Druyan said now in reference to the Fox series. “He wanted to convey the thrill of its cosmic perspective to the widest possible audience. I wish I could tell Carl what Seth’s leadership on this new Cosmos has made possible. Besides, I know how much they would have liked each other.” Read More »