It’s a done deal. NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and WWE today announced a multi-year partnership that will keep Monday Night Raw and SmackDown on USA Network and Syfy, respectively. The announcement was made today by Paul Levesque, WWE’s EVP Talent, Live Events & Creative, during NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s upfront presentation in New York. “USA Network President Chris McCumber, Syfy President Dave Howe and I are incredibly pleased to renew this strategic partnership with WWE,” said NBCU Cable Chairman Bonnie Hammer. “In today’s TV landscape, live event programming is an extraordinarily valuable asset, and WWE remains the only entertainment franchise that consistently delivers this on a 52-week-a-year basis. We look forward to bringing WWE’s action-packed and unique brand of drama to the wide audiences across our cable networks for many years to come.”
Syfy Upfronts: ‘Sharknado 3′ Gets Greenlight, Unscripted And Miniseries Development Slate Unveiled, Tricia Helfer To Star In ‘Ascension’
Syfy said today that it has given a green light to Sharknado 3 to air in summer 2015, and it looks like more of the same except in a new city — which is being kept under wraps. The network also revealed its first unscripted slate (see the list of projects below) and announced it is developing adaptations of the graphic novels Clone, from Robert Kirkman and David Alpert (The Walking Dead), and Letter 44 from Jonathan Mostow (Terminator 3). That is in addition to The Magicians based on the Lev Grossman novels that we broke here first.
On the miniseries front, Syfy is developing Pax Romana, based on Jonathan Hickman’s comic book limited series published in 2007 about a Special Forces team that travels back in time to Ancient Rome on the eve of World War III to “fix” the future by altering the past. Roman legions battle modern day attack helicopters, tanks and soldier as the leaders of the expedition fight over their vision for civilization. Also in the works is an adaptation of the Frank Miller DC comic series Ronin, set eight centuries after a Japanese Ronin samurai failed to protect his master from a demon, he awakens in a futuristic, nihilistic New York in the body of Billy, a medical experiment. Warner Horizon is producing.
Meanwhile, Syfy also announced that veteran Tricia Helfer is returning to the network fold. She will star in Ascension, Syfy’s new original six-hour event series that was greenlighted in March. It also said that a new unscripted series, Town Of The Living Dead, will premiere October 7. The comedic docuseries from True Entertainment follows a small Alabama town trying to complete their own independent zombie movie six years in the making.
EXCLUSIVE: Syfy, which will be holding its upfront presentation later today, continues to aggressively build a scripted primetime lineup with the addition of new 10-episode adventure drama series, Killjoys, which will premiere in 2015.
Originally ordered by Bell Media’s Space in Canada, Killjoys comes from the producers of Orphan Black, Temple Street Prods., and the creator of Lost Girl, Michelle Lovretta. It follows a fun-loving, hard living trio of interplanetary bounty hunters sworn to remain impartial as they chase deadly warrants throughout the Quad, a distant system on the brink of a bloody, multiplanetary class war. “With its explosive action, smartly-drawn characters, and fun and provocative story-lines, Killjoys has all the ingredients to make it the perfect complement to our expanding slate of quality science fiction drama series,” said Syfy president Dave Howe.
EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of its upfront presentation today, Syfy has put in development Pax Romana, a miniseries based on the graphic novel by Jonathan Hickman, and The Magicians, a drama series based on Lev Grossman’s popular fantasy novels. Pax Romana is being adapted by writers Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia (Warehouse 13) and Circle of Confusion, while The Magicians hails from former Supernatural showrunner Sera Gamble, John McNamara (In Plain Sight) and producer Michael London. Both projects are set at Universal Cable Prods.
Based on Hickman’s comic book limited series published in 2007, Pax Romana is about a Special Forces team that travels back in time to Ancient Rome on the eve of World War III to “fix” the future by altering the past. Roman legions battle modern day attack helicopters, tanks and soldier as the leaders of the expedition fight over their vision for civilization. David Alpert of Circle of Confusion (The Walking Dead), Federman and Scaia executive produce, Hickman co-executive produces. Federman, Scaia and Circle of Confusion are repped by CAA.
It’s the end of the road for thriller, suspense and horror-themed FEARnet. Comcast has bought out its partners in the joint venture — Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment — to take 100% ownership. Following the transaction, which closed this morning, FEARnet will no longer be a stand-alone brand but will be folded into Comcast’s NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment division. “NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment has acquired all remaining interests in FEARnet from its productive venture with Lionsgate and Sony,” the company said in a statement to Deadline through a spokesman. “FEARnet, along with its popular content, will be integrated into NBCU Cable Entertainment. This process will take place over a yet to be determined period of time.”
FEARnet is expected to be folded mainly into Comcast/NBCU Cable Entertainment’s similarly thriller, suspense and horror-focused Chiller, though some content could also migrate to Syfy. I’ve learned that 10 of FEARnet’s 25 employees will stay on through the transition. The other 15 are being let go today. NBCU would try to find job opportunities for some of them across the company. FEARnet president Peter Block will stay at least through the transition.
Syfy Gives 10-Episode Order To Space Opera ‘The Expanse’ From Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby, Alcon Entertainment
Syfy continues to aggressively build its original slate with a 10-episode order to The Expanse, a series based on James S.A. Corey’s series of novels. The project, which received a very rich straight-to-series order in a competitive situation, is in the space opera genre in the tradition of Battlestar Galactica that Syfy brass had been looking to bring back to the network. The Expanse was put together as straight-to-series by Alcon Entertainment’s TV arm Alcon Television Group and Sean Daniel and Jason Brown of the Sean Daniel Co., who developed the original pitch with Oscar-nominated writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men, Iron Man). This marks the first series order for ATG, which launched two years ago. Fergus and Ostby wrote the script on spec and will continue as writers and executive producers.
Related: 2014 Syfy Pilots
Syfy‘s Sharknado 2: The Second One is similar to the original Sharknado — but in New York, director Anthony C. Ferrante told reporters at NBCU’s Summer Press Day. “We never stopped making the first movie,” he told a reporter who asked how the second would differ from the first. “This thing never stopped…If it stayed in Los Angeles it would have been boring,” he said, but the sequel will feature the Statue of Liberty and Broadway, which, of course, the original could not. In the sequel, killer sharks get caught up in a massive tornado that invades Manhattan, making life a living hell for the locals. “This to me is the most important film ever made about climate change,” snarked cast member Judah Friedlander today at the NBCU Summer Press Day in Pasadena.
Syfy is entering the hot zombie genre with Z Nation, a 13-episode series from Asylum, the company behind the network’s hit schlocky horror franchise Sharknado. Executive produced/showrun by Karl Schaefer (Eureka), Z Nation is set three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, and a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America. “Z Nation is a unique new journey into the long established zombie genre,” said Syfy SVP Chris Regina. “Instead of existential despair, the series offers hope that somehow, some way, humanity will not only survive, but triumph.” Added Schaefer, “Our everyday heroes take the fight to the zombies.” Z Nation, set to premiere this fall, will be produced by Asylum, in its debut doing a regular series, and sold internationally by Dynamic Television. Schaefer is repped by APA and Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox & Light LLP.
On the heels of greenlighting its first miniseries since 2009′s Alice, the six-hour Ascension, Syfy has teamed with the producer of Alice, longform veteran Robert Halmi Jr., for a new 13-part series Olympus to premiere in 2015. The project, set in the world of humans, Gods and monsters, hails from Halmi Sr. who also produced the 2007 Syfy mini Tin Man as well as the 2011 Neverland, which was acquired by Syfy, and writer Nick Willing, who also penned Tinman, Alice and Neverland. Olympus tells the story of how a few brave men and women banished the Gods to the realm of the unconscious – a place they called the Underworld or the Kingdom of Hades. It centers on a fresh-faced and raw young man who, through the dramatic experiences of betrayal, love, disappointment, empowerment and exile, transforms into a ruthless leader of men, and a match for the Gods themselves. “Olympus is a fantastic blend of action, intense thrills, creatures and great story telling,” said SyfySVP Chris Regina. “It will feature characters from mythology in a way never before imagined.”
Seven years bad luck is what you usually get for breaking a mirror so looks like NBCUniversal has finally put the pieces together and outrun the curse – literally and figuratively. After more than 7 years of legal haunting and a near-trip to the Supreme Court, the media company seemingly has been freed of the Ghost Hunters lawsuit that claimed it lifted the idea for the flagship Syfy reality show. California’s 2nd Court of Appeals this week granted NBCU a summary judgment and said that parapsychologist Larry Montz and publicist Daena Smoller’s initial 2006 case hadn’t brought their claims within the applicable two-year statute of limitations. “In sum, the undisputed facts and the law established the right of petitioners to an order granting their motion for summary judgment,” said the April 1 order (read it here) by Judge Nora Margaret Manella. Now of course this isn’t totally over as Montz and Smoller could appeal again — though their chances of success at this point look dim.
Syfy has given a series order to 12 Monkeys, a drama based on the 1995 Universal Pictures film directed by Terry Gilliam. The project, written/co-executive produced by Terry Matalas & Travis Fickett (Nikita) has received a 12-episode order for a January 2015 premiere. 12 Monkeys was one of two pilots most recently ordered by Syfy. The other, Bryan Fuller’s High Moon, is not going forward.
12 Monkeys, from Universal Cable Prods. and Atlas Entertainment, producer of the movie, follows the journey of a time traveler (Aaron Stanford) from the post-apocalyptic future who appears in present day on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will eventually decimate the human race.
Syfy has greenlighted The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), a 12-episode summer series hosted by actor, blogger and geek culture expert Wil Wheaton. The 30-minute weekly comedy show is slated to premiere May 27 at 10 PM. Each week, Wheaton will dissect the week’s most popular and trending topics across science fiction film, television and pop culture, video games, viral videos and news. “Wil Wheaton’s rock star status within the genre fan base, along with his insatiable passion for all things pop culture, make him the ideal arbiter of what’s hot and what’s not in the genre space,” said Syfy President Dave Howe. Recently, Wheaton has recurred on Syfy’s Eureka, TNT’s Leverage and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. He played Axis of Anarchy leader Fawkes in Felicia Day’s web series The Guild and currently hosts Falling Skies: Second Watch for TNT. Wheaton also is the creator, producer, and host of web series Tabletop, which is in its second season. Wil Wheaton Project is a production of Pilgrim Studios, with Craig Piligian and Mike Nichols (Ghost Hunters) executive producers.
“We can officially announce we shot cameos Tuesday,” Today co-anchor Matt Lauer announced this morning on the program, of his appearance with Today weatherman Al Roker in Syfy‘s upcoming Sharknado sequel, Sharknado 2, debuting July 30 on the fellow NBCUniversal network. Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie, giving the performance of her lifetime, responded that she is “wildly jealous.” Today played a clip in which Roker, on the Today set, explains to Lauer, “This is a twister with teeth.” Lauer contributes: “Enough said indeed, Al, Thank you very much.” The cameo was shot yesterday. Lauer also showed a clip in which he uses a Today orange umbrellas to stab something that looked like it came from the fish department of Whole Foods, only wrapped in green fabric. “I can’t believe we gave away the whole climax of the movie,” Lauer said. “I’ll remind you the Golden Globes are next January — who are you wearing?” Guthrie snarked.
In Sharknado 2, “a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a ‘sharknado’ on the city’s population and its most iconic sites,” Syfy has said of the sequel. The original orgy of bad special effects and even worse acting had triggered a social media feeding frenzy among journalists and celebrities when it premiered last July.
Ahead of tonight’s Season 1 finale, Syfy announced it has picked up a 13-episode second season of scripted drama Helix, from Sony TV. Production will begin later this year with an eye toward a winter 2015 premiere. From creator/co-executive producer Cameron Porsandeh and executive producer Ron Moore, Helix stars Billy Campbell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kyra Zagorsky and Mark Ghanimé. The thriller, about a team of scientists battling a mankind-threatening outbreak, debuted January 10 to 1.82 million Live+SD total viewers. The premiere broke Syfy L+3 records by gaining 64% in 18-49 to 1.2 million and 53% in total viewers. Since then, the series has averaged 2.1 million total viewers, 1.1 million adults 25-54 and 1 million adults 18-49. “Helix has built one of our most loyal and consistent audiences in its first season on Syfy,” said Bill McGoldrick, EVP Original Content. The incredibly talented writing and producing team have crafted a thriller that consistently delivered suspense, twists and high quality drama.
With event programming making a comeback, Syfy signaled its return to the arena last year when it ramped up miniseries development with such projects as Warriors Of Oz, from director Timur Bekmambetov and four-hour minis based on Larry Niven’s Ringworld and on Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End with producer Michael De Luca. Now the cable network has greenlighted its first miniseries since 2009′s Alice: the six-hour Ascension, which will premiere in the fourth quarter. It marks one of the first major greenlight decisions for Syfy’s new head of original programming, EVP Bill McGoldrick. His predecessor, Mark Stern, serves as executive producer on Ascension alongside microbudget horror film king Jason Blum. Written/exec produced by Philip Levens (Smallville), Ascension is set onboard starship Ascension.
The upcoming six-episode second part of Being Human‘s fourth season will be the Syfy drama’s swan song, with the April 7 closer serving as a series finale. “Showrunner Anna Fricke and the talented producers, writers, cast and crew have done an amazing job bringing this show to life over the past four seasons and we sincerely thank them and the series’ production company Muse Entertainment for their hard work,” the network said. “They’ve saved the best for last with the final six episodes that revisit the story’s beginning, leading to a not-to-be-missed send-off for Aidan, Sally, Josh and Nora.” This marks the first cancellation decision for new Syfy programming chief Bill McGoldrick, who replaced Mark Stern in November. Supernatural drama Being Human was an adaptation of the British series of the same name, which ended its five-season run last year. Here a thank-you video message to the fans from the Syfy series’ cast:
Vivica A. Fox, Mark McGrath, Kelly Osbourne, Andy Dick, Judah Friedlander, and Judd Hirsch have been cast in Sharknado 2: The Second One – set to begin production next week. Throw your mind back to last month, when Syfy announced Ian Zierling and Tara Reid would pack up their chainsaws and head to Manhattan for Sharknado 2: The Second One, which is set to trend on Twitter some as-yet-unspecified day in July. Anthony Ferrante is again directing the screenplay by Thunder Levin – this time about a freak weather system that turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a “sharknado” on the city’s population and its most iconic sites, with sharknado experts Fin (Ziering) and April (Reid) the only ones able to save the city.
The original orgy of bad special effects and even worse acting had triggered a social media feeding frenzy among journalists and celebrities when it premiered on Syfy last summer. Among them, Mia Farrow tweeted a photo of herself with Philip Roth, with whom she said she was watching Sharknado. Maybe Roth did not appreciate the gag — anyway, the photo that had been taken of them at a dinner party days earlier vanished at some point. Greg Berlanti contributed the somewhat so-so gag, “Somewhere in Hollywood there is a senior executive yelling at a junior executive for not coming up with #Sharknado first.” Damon Lindelof observed, “This movie is such a ripoff of The Bicycle Thief.” Wil Wheaton warned: “You fools! You foolish fools! We should have taken global warming seriously and now there’s Sharknado!” Other celebrities used the occasion to reflect on themselves: “Oh Goddamn it, now I want to see it too and then I’m gonna want to quit this business…again!” tweeted Michael Chiklis, for example. Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, and Patton Oswalt also threw in their 2 cents worth, and even the American Red Cross weighed in.
In case you were one of those who did not watch, Sharknado, in round numbers, went like this: The ecological nightmare caused by global warming triggers a freak weather system in Los Angeles that results in a mega tornado choc-a-block with angry sharks who sail through the air attacking innocent children and blondes, and causing to be uttered such lines as “they took my grandfather, so I really hate sharks.” The movie culminated in a mano-a-sharko scene, in which our hero Ziering was swallowed by a flying shark but, happily, he had his chainsaw with him at the time; he sawed his way out, also rescuing the distressed damsel who’d earlier been consumed whole by same shark.
Now, about that Sharknado 2 casting: One of those signed will play a New York City police officer. Another will play a friend of Fin’s who goes by the name Skye. One will play a flight attendant. Another will portray a taxi driver. Still another will play Fin’s brother-in- law. And someone will play someone named Brian.
Can you guess who will play what? We’ll give you a minute to test your casting skills. Answers after the jump:
EXCLUSIVE: Former Smallville executive producers/showrunners Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer have boarded Syfy’s upcoming supernatural drama series Dominion. The two will serve and executive producers and co-showrunners alongside Vaun Wilmott, who wrote the pilot. Based on characters from the hit theatrical film Legion, Dominion is a post-apocalyptic supernatural drama set in the year 25 A.E. when an army of lower angels, assembled by the archangel Gabriel, has waged a war of possession against mankind. The archangel Michael, turning against his own kind, has chosen to side with humanity against Gabriel, and a rebellious young soldier begins a perilous journey as the war between the human race and the fallen angels escalates.
Series Adaptation Of DC Comic ‘DMZ’ From ‘Mad Men’s Andre & Maria Jacquemetton, ‘Gravity’s David Heyman Set Up At Syfy
EXCLUSIVE: In their major sale under their overall deal at Warner Bros TV, former Mad Men executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton have teamed with Gravity producer David Heyman for a drama series based on the DC comic book DMZ, which has landed at Syfy. Written by the Jacquemettons, DMZ is set in the near future and centers on a young man trapped in Manhattan, which has been turned into a demilitarized zone (DMZ) after a second American civil war. The comic book series, created by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, was launched by DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint in 2005 and ran until 2012 for a total of 72 issues. The TV adaptation, now in development at Syfy, hails from WBTV’s cable division, Warner Horizon, as well as the Jacquemettons’ Slim Chance Prods. banner and Heyman’s Heyday Films. The Jacquemettons and Heyman executive produce alongside Heyday Films’ Jeffrey Clifford.
The husband-and-wife Jacquemettons were among the key writer-producers on Mad Men for its first six seasons, until they left last May. The two were among Mad Men creator Weiner’s first hires, joining the AMC series right after the pilot. They rose through the ranks to executive producers, shared in three of the series’ four best series Emmys and earned three writing Emmy nominations. The Jacquemettons are …