Sci Fi Executives Weigh 'Battlestar Galactica' Options
September 18, 2007 7:53 AM
The Sci Fi Channel is wrestling with a pair of key decisions for its acclaimed “Battlestar Galactica” series: whether to break the highly anticipated final chapter into two 10-episode seasons, and deciding whether to greenlight a two-hour pilot for the long-gestating “Caprica” spinoff.
Sci Fi executives attending the NBC Universal pre-Emmy party at Spago in Beverly Hills Saturday said the decision whether to split the final season was an ongoing discussion, but at least one network programmer was firmly against the idea.
As is often the case with the lavishly produced series, the issue is “the money people,” as one executive put it. Since “Battlestar” eats a considerable portion of the Sci Fi programming budget, the network might be forced to spread the resulting product across two seasons.
Showrunner Ron Moore shrugged off the issue. “It doesn’t affect my job either way, since we’re shooting it straight through,” he says. “It might be better to get it all done [in the same year] for the fans so they don’t have to wait.”
Ideally, the programming department prefers to stick to its original game plan to wrap up the series in the first half of next year. HBO broke up the final season of “The Sopranos” across two years – which makes more sense for a popular series on a premium network that’s seeking to retain subscribers – but still managed to antagonize fans and lost some viewership.
With “Battlestar” fans already waiting about a year for the return of the series -- not counting the two-hour “Razor” stand-alone movie coming this fall -- returning with only 10 episodes could spark a revolt.
Moore’s storyline also could make fans demand rapid closure, one person close to the project says, since “when people see the ending of the 10th episode, they’re gonna freak out.”
The final decision might not come until January. A key factor is what new shows are in the pipeline that could be paired with “Galactica” – and how much those shows will cost.
One such title is the oft-discussed “Caprica” spinoff series. Most recently presumed a dead project, Sci Fi executives seem to have renewed enthusiasm for the idea, especially with the looming prospect of losing Moore following the conclusion of “Battlestar.” Moore has about four projects in development at NBC and a flurry of theatrical deals (more on that in a moment), and the network wants to find a way to keep the talented showrunner in-house.
Plus, executives say “Caprica” has the potential to retain and expand the passionate “Battlestar” audience. The tone is lighter and more of a character-driven drama than an action series. The network is considering ordering a two-hour pilot that could serve as a stand-alone event – just like the miniseries that launched Moore’s “Battlestar” remake. The movie would be accompanied by a consecutive DVD release.
Especially if the similarly conceived stand-alone “Razor” performs strongly, the thinking seems to be that a two-hour “Caprica” pilot could justify its expense. Worst-case scenario: The pilot is aired and sold as a DVD, recouping some costs. If the pilot is strong, then the network has a new series.
Either way, by the time “Battlestar” returns next year, Sci Fi Channel will have launched its high-definition simulcast channel, allowing viewers to finally see the show in HD during its premiere run.
As for Moore’s other anticipated sci-fi project, he says he just turned in his script for Universal's motion picture update of John Carpenter’s 1982 version of “The Thing.”
“I’m happy with it,” Moore says, and described the script as “a companion piece” rather than a remake of the Carpenter version. “That film doesn’t need to be remade,” he says. Moore’s script includes segments set long before the modern discovery of the shape-shifting alien in the Arctic, including an encounter with the Inuit natives.
Moore was Emmy-nominated for writing in a drama series, but he wasn’t very optimistic about winning. Up against the “Sopranos” finale, Moore wrestled with whether to write a speech.
“I’m very prepared to hear David Chase’s name float across the auditorium,” he said.