Cable Upfront Notes: Michael Douglas to Produce Series

Apr 18, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Sci Fi Channel has made a deal with Michael Douglas to produce a new series based on the stories of Shirley Jackson, author of “The Haunting of Hill House.”

The deal was announced at an upfront briefing by the network last week in New York. Mark Stern, Sci Fi executive VP of original programming, also previewed plans for “Heroes Anonymous,” a live-action one-hour dramedy about superheroes in group therapy, and “Barbarian Chronicles,” a reality comedy from Worldwide Pants described as “Lord of the Rings” meets “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Also in development are the scripted series “Those Who Walk in Darkness,” “Urban Arcana,” “Tomorrow’s Child,” “3:52” and an update of the 1960s show “Time Tunnel.” Alternative/reality shows in development include “Seriously Baffling Mysteries” and “Dallas in Wonderland,” featuring British TV star Dallas Campbell.

New shows in production include “Painkiller Jane” and “Eureka.” Dave Howe, executive VP and general manager of Sci Fi, said Louis Gossett Jr. and Beau Bridges are joining the cast of “Stargate SG-1” and Mitch Pileggi is joining the cast of “Stargate Atlantis.” The network is also increasing its production of original Saturday movies to 28 from last year’s 23.

BET Intros Originals; ‘News’ to Depart

Reminding ad buyers during its upfront presentation last week that it is the No. 1 network reaching black viewers, BET showed off the stars of its new original programs.

BET also said it will replace its half-hour “BET Nightly News” this summer with a series of news briefs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. The newscast has been produced by CBS News, and BET said it will continue its joint production agreement and continue to get news content from CBS News and CBS Newspath.

“There are other news coverage options at our disposal which we’re also considering, including the possibility of a weekend newsmagazine or analysis show,” BET President Debra Lee said.

The presentation, marred by audio difficulties, also included performances by Nelly, Kanye West, John Legend and Ludacris, who will be the featured performer at this year’s BET Awards, the network said.

New programs at BET include “Blowin’ Up!: Fatti Coo,” a reality show about young musicians trying to make it in the recording business; “Re Mixed,” a makeover show; and “The Ultimate Hustler,” an “Apprentice”-like program starring Damon Dash.

Turner Unveils Plans for TNT Movies

Turner Broadcasting announced plans for three new original movies for TNT at its upfront last week in New York. One is a sequel to last year’s “The Librarian,” which starred Noah Wyle. Another is “Pleading Guilty,” based on the novel of the same name by Scott Turow. The third is “Avenger,” based on Frederick Forsyth’s book.

Turner’s TBS plans to air “Earth to America,” a two-hour comedy special culled from the new TBS Comedy Festival in Las Vegas in November.