'Farscape’ Ends as Mini

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Sci Fi Channel will say a final good-bye to fan favorite Farscape and hello to several new fantasy/drama series and movies as part of its summer 2004/early 2005 programming schedule.

Also on tap for the channel are projects featuring a number of well-known producers and actors, including Martin Scorsese, Deal Devlin, Nicholas Cage, Vin Diesel and Ridley Scott, that will help Sci Fi broaden its programming schedule beyond “space operas,” president Bonnie Hammer said during the network’s upfront presentation here last week.

Hammer hopes the new series, specials and movies will maintain the network’s recent ratings surge.

Sci Fi posted a 1.1 household mark during the first quarter 2004, up 10% over the same period last year, according to an ABC Cable Networks Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research data.

This fall, Sci Fi will send off a four-hour miniseries based on original series Farscape that network officials promise will provide a fitting end to the skein.

Sci Fi abruptly retro-rocketed the series into the void in 2002 after four seasons, due to falling ratings and high production costs.

The cancellation touched off a major backlash among Farscape followers, who vehemently protested the network’s decision via a substantial e-mail campaign.

Original series from Joel Schumacher (Batman) and Ridley Scott (Alien) are currently in development.

Also on the drawing board: Kyra, a spin-off of feature film Pitch Black, with star Vin Diesel serving as executive producer; Eureka, a drama described as Northern Exposure meets The Twilight Zone; and Witchhunter Robin, a take-off on the popular Japanese anime series of the same name.

On the telepic side, actor Nicholas Cage will serve as executive producer of Dresden Files, a two-hour back-door pilot film about a detective with wizard-like powers.

The network also plans to produce 20 additional original “popcorn” action movies this year as part of its primetime action-movie block on Saturdays.

Clive Barker (Hellraiser) will produce a six-hour limited series titled History of the Devil.

Other miniseries include The Triangle, Five Days to Midnight and Ringworld.

In casting news, Sci Fi officials announced that Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men) and Kristin Kreuk (Smallville) will join the network’s previously announced Earthsea project.

Executive vice president and head of original programming Mark Stern said the new lineup of fantasy/drama shows will help broaden the network’s fan base without alienating its core science fiction devotees.

For those viewers, the network will launch a series based on last year’s Battlestar Galactica minseries, as well as a spinoff of the popular Stargate SG-1, dubbed Stargate Atlantis.

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