A killer virus being barely contained in the Arctic was the launch point for Syfy’s new thriller series Friday. While that’s the premise of the series, Helix wasn’t exactly bubonic with viewers for its premiere. Despite a strong visual and panel Comic-Con presence last summer plus some hefty promotion, the 90-minute Jeffrey Reiner-directed debut episode garnered just 1.8 million viewers at 10 PM. With a 0.6 rating, Helix pulled in 734,000 viewers in among adults 18-49 and 893,000 in the 25-54 demo. That’s a far cry from the 2.7 million total viewers the channel drew for Defiance when that debuted on April 15, 2013. That two-hour Monday opener had 1.3 million among the 18-49 and 1.4 million among adults 25-54, Syfy’s top total viewers and 25-54 performances since 2009’s Warehouse 13. To give some further context of where Helix stands in the Syfy universe right now, Warehouse 13 had 3.5 million viewers with a 2.5 household rating, 1.7 million adults 25-54 and 1.3 million adults 18-49 for the third best viewership debut for any Syfy series behind 2004’s Stargate Atlantis (4.2 million) and 2006’s Eureka (4.1 million).
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor.
While television visual-effects producers are far from immune to the same market forces that recently have rocked the film world, the serial nature of TV and its inherent short deadlines allow facilities and effects artists to find a satisfying and stable niche. “The predictability of the television season helps us,” says Andrew Orloff, co-owner and visual-effects supervisor of Zoic Studios, whose clients include TNT’s Emmy-nominated Falling Skies and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. “We built our business model on serving a bunch of different markets, and we’ve done pretty well.”
With shows going from shooting to air in two or three weeks, effects need to be done extremely quickly and to a high standard. “It can be a blessing and a curse,” says Mat Beck, president of Entity FX, which works on Emmy nominee Game Of Thrones, as well as Vampire Diaries, Mike & Molly and The Following. “What is hard is, you have to get stuff done crazy quickly. The blessing is you’re in a disciplined environment, timewise, and you have to zero in on the best solution.”
Jim Murray (CBS’ Chaos) is joining the second season of Syfy’s Defiance as a new regular. On the show, developed in partnership with gamer Trion Worlds, Murray will play Niles Pottinger, the new mayor of Defiance. Appointed by the Earth Republic, Pottinger is shrewd, polished and charming. But his civilized veneer hides a ruthless pragmatist who traffics in information and secrets, and mercilessly punishes those who defy him. His latest object of desire is ex-mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz). Murray is repped by Andy Corren Management, UTA, United Agents and David Matlof,
Jenn Lyon (Justified) and Kaden Gibson (Review With Forrest MacNeil) are set to co-star opposite George Lopez inSaint George, FX‘s upcoming 10-90 sitcom from Lionsgate TV and Debmar-Mercury. Created and co-written by Matt Williams, David McFadzean and Lopez, Saint George revolves around the chaotic life of a recently divorced working-class Mexican-American turned successful entrepreneur (Lopez) who struggles to balance his demanding ex-wife (Lyon), his 11-year-old son (Gibson), his overbearing mother (Adriana Barraza) who just moved in, and his uncle (Danny Trejo), as well as his new role teaching history once a week at a night school. Lyon is repped by Patty Woo Management, SDB Partners and TalentWorks. Gibson, who landed the role after an extensive search of seeing …
A massive financial investment and solid ratings have led to a second-season renewal for Syfy‘s Defiance, which has received a 13-episode order. Season 2 of the show, produced by Universal Cable Productions, will begin production in Toronto in August for a 2014 premiere, returning as anchor of Syfy’s Powerful Mondays block. Defiance was developed as a partnership between Syfy and Trion Worlds as a convergence of television and online gaming. Here’s the official release:
With OK ratings and a big financial commitment by Syfy, the network’s new video game-tied drama Defiance is likely to get a second season. But if/when it does, it will be without executive producer Michael Taylor. Taylor was one of three writing executive producers on the first season, which has been completed, along with showrunner Kevin Murphy and Rockne O’Bannon. He won’t be returning for Season 2. Taylor is a sci-fi veteran who worked on Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine. He has a long history with Syfy, having served as co-executive producer on hit Battlestar Galactica and spinoff Caprica.
Former Walt Disney Television International and Nickelodeon exec Nicky Douglas will oversee Universal Networks International’s Universal Channel, Syfy, E! Entertainment Television, The Style Network and Movies 24 in the UK. The group of channels has been ramping up its business in the territory with a series of significant deals. Universal Channel just acquired A&E Network’s Bates Motel for two seasons and launched TNT’s Major Crimes as part of an exclusive pact. Syfy premiered drama series Defiance yesterday, 24 hours after its U.S. bow. Douglas most recently had her own consulting firm and will start her new job immediately.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Wesley Snipes, ITV’s ‘The Chase’, Unifrance, Syfy’s ‘Defiance’, Berlin Retro, BBC-Fremantle, ‘The Raid 2′
Wesley Snipes Comeback Effort Kicks Off With ‘Gallowwalkers’
In advance of the former action star’s impending release from federal prison, Wesley Snipes is trying to get back into the game with the announcement that Gallowwalkers, the long-in-development action/sci-fi/horror film directed by Andrew Goth, will be shown to international buyers at the 2013 Berlin film market. Gallowwalkers features Snipes in the role of Aman, a cursed gunslinger whose victims return from the dead to torment him. The film, which began production in 2006, will have its market premiere February 8. Gallowwalkers also stars Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix and Patrick Bergin. It is executive produced and produced by Jack Bowyer (Dark Hearts, Private Peaceful) and produced by Courtney Lauren Penn (Dark Hearts), and Brandon Burrows (Darks Hearts) of Boundless Pictures. VMI International is handling sales at Berlin. - Ross Lincoln
ITV Orders 300 More Episodes of ‘The Chase’
The UK’s ITV has renewed popular daytime game show The Chase with what is believed to be the network’s biggest order ever — more than 300 episodes over 2 seasons. The ITV Studios-produced show, which this week was named Broadcast magazine’s Best Daytime Programme, airs daily at 5 PM and has boosted the time-slot average by 1.1 million viewers, a 39% gain vs. last year.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Syfy’s Defiance — a drama series that will exist as both a TV series and a video game in collaboration with Trion Worlds — will have its series premiere April 15 at 9 PM with a two-hour episode launching a total of 12 episodes, the cable channel announced today at TCA. During today’s panel featuring the show’s cast, executive producer Kevin Murphy and Syfy president Mark Stern, Murphy said that although the producers of both the TV show and the game will collaborate on creating parallel realities, players of the game will have no influence over major plot points in either one.
It’s not an “audience vote” adventure, Murphy said. “The analogy I like to use is, I grew up as a gigantic comic book geek, and what I loved about comics is that you could love Batman and read Batman’s adventures, and if you happen to also like Superman, if you read both titles, sometimes there would be crossovers in the summer that lent an extra level of coolness to the whole thing.”
Added Murphy, “The game has its own narrative and story lines. They are shared universes with dual portals. If there is a catastrophic weather experience [in the TV show], the characters in the game [may] put that in motion.” He said the game will create an illusion of spontaneity, but “if you are supposed to get the gadget, you will get the gadget.”
Because the game and the TV drama contain overlapping stories and characters, Stern said, “there was definitely no aspect of this deal-making that was normal. Lawyers love that. Agents love that.”
Syfy‘s upcoming Defiance is set on a future Earth ravaged by interstellar war and inhabited by surviving humans and aliens. The series was developed to debut simultaneously in April 2013 with Trion World’s multi-platform shooter MMO game. It stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Fionnula Flanagan, Mia Kirshner and Graham Greene. Rockne S. O’Bannon, Michael Taylor and Kevin Murphy wrote the script; Murphy serves as executive producer/showrunner. Here’s a peek:
Syfy unveiled a record 28 scripted and reality development projects during its upfront presentation today as part of a slate that includes its most original primetime hours ever. (We already told you about the network’s reality plans.) Said Mark Stern, President Original Content, Syfy, and Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions: “Over its 20-year history, Syfy has always pushed the boundaries of our genre and the entertainment experience. This new crop of innovative, thought-provoking, emotionally-charged programming will propel us even farther as we imagine all the greater possibilities ahead for the powerful Syfy brand.” Among the crop talked up at the American History Museum presentation is Defiance, a new scripted series written/executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor and produced by Universal Cable Prods. Set to premiere in 2013, it was developed concurrently with an online video game; production on the pilot is set to begin this month in Toronto. Julie Benz and Grant Bowler star in the story set on a future Earth where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. Here’s Syfy’s full slate:
EXCLUSIVE: Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries, The L Word) and Fionnula Flanagan (Lost) have joined the cast of Syfy’s new drama series Defiance. Set in the near future, Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in bustling frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Kirshner, repped by APA and Brillstein Entertainment, will play Kenya, the self-assured, dauntless town madam whose unvarying devotion to the town of Defiance has inexorably woven her into many of its complicated affairs. Flanagan will portray Nicky, the popular ex-mayor of the town whose intrinsic expertise from her years on the job have made her a trusted mentor to her successor, Amanda (Julie Benz). Defiance, written/executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor and produced by Universal Cable Prods., was developed concurrently with an online video game. It is slated to begin production on the pilot this month in Toronto.
British actress Laura Haddock is set to co-star opposite Tom Riley in Starz’s upcoming original series Da Vinci’s Demons. Written by David S. Goyer, Da Vinci’s Demons is a historical fantasy, following the “untold” story of the world’s greatest genius Leonardo da Vinci (Riley) during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. Haddock will play Lucrezia Donati, the mistress of Lorenzo Medici and da Vinci’s lover.
Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves) has joined the cast of Syfy’s upcoming drama series Defiance. Set in the near future, Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in bustling frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Greene will play Rafe McCawley, a self-made success who owns and operates the largest mine in the territory. However, Rafe’s status as the richest and most powerful human in town comes with a price, as he struggles to navigate both familial and political alliances in this precariously assembled new world.
EXCLUSIVE: Dexter alumna Julie Benz will star opposite Grant Bowler Bowler in the Syfy series Defiance. Tony Curran (Pillars Of The Earth), Jaime Murray and Stephanie Leonidas also have been cast in the live-action drama, written/executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor, which was developed concurrently with an online video game. Set on a future Earth, Defiance is set in a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Bowler), the law-keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Benz, repped by ICM and Vincent Cirrincione, will play Amanda Rosewater, the idealistic newly appointed mayor of the mining boomtown who is determined to maintain peace in the community.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Ugly Betty and True Blood alum Grant Bowler has been tapped as the lead in Syfy’s new original series Defiance. The project is a live-action drama, written/executive produced by Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, which was developed concurrently with an online video game by Trion. “Grant’s charismatic charm and his depth as an actor make him the perfect anchor as we build the ensemble for this sweeping adventure series,” said Syfy’s president of original content Mark Stern.
Set on a future Earth, Defiance introduces players and viewers to a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Bowler), the law-keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Nolan is a former Marine who fought in the alien conflict and suffered the loss of his wife and child in the war. The trauma transformed him into a lone wanderer in the wilds of this new and dangerous world. Defiance seems to be blending Western and alien themes, something that last year’s feature Cowboys & Aliens attempted to do, but the series is set in the future. New Zealander Bowler is best known for his recurring roles as Vanessa Williams’ squeeze on Ugly Betty, as werewolf Cooter on True Blood and as Capt. Gault on Lost. Scott Stewart (Legion) is …