Sci Fi, Spielberg Team Up


Hoping to repeat the ratings success of Taken, Sci Fi Channel will once again partner with director Steven Spielberg to develop a new miniseries "trilogy" set to bow in 2005.

Nine Lives
will be the first television event to tell a single story over three distinct miniseries events, according to the network.

"Each [miniseries] will be a singular set of stories that literally link together and flow just like The Lord of the Rings," Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer said. "It's not about aliens — it's just a whole other topic and we're doing a trilogy, which is something that's never been done on television."

Bohem on board

writer Les Bohem will join Spielberg in developing Nine Lives, which will be produced by DreamWorks Television.

"Steven joins us in welcoming this second opportunity to be associated with the Sci Fi Channel in bringing innovative programming to the television audience," DreamWorks Television co-heads Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey said. "Taken
was an incredible experience on every level and, with Les Bohem back at the helm, we have no doubt that Nine Lives
will be equally exciting for all of us."

Network executives would not estimate production costs, although Hammer said the series would at least approach the $40 million allocated for the 10-part Taken, which won the Emmy Award for best miniseries.

"You can assume that it will be very competitive to Taken, based on the number of [series] hours," Hammer said. "We're not going to spend less, but the advantage is that this will not be special-effects driven, so more money will go into other things."

Hammer declined to reveal the plot, saying only it will revolve around themes of "love, relationships and the beyond. It will have some young characters, it will have emotionalism and it will be edgy. It will have a broad audience, as did Taken, that's very well-balanced and will reach our target 18-to-49 audience."

The debuts of the 10 two-hour Taken
installments, which ran from Dec. 2 through Dec. 13, 2002, averaged a 4.1 household rating, and lifted the network to the top of the primetime ratings charts for the first two weeks of that month, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

With myriad encores, 61 Taken
telecasts attracted almost 81 million households and 115.7 million viewers last December.

Sci Fi officials would not disclose how many separate episodes each Nine Lives
miniseries would entail, although network executives previously said it could be as many as six one-hour episodes per project.

He's busy

Hammer also said Spielberg would be intimately involved in the development of the Nine Lives
trilogy, despite his commitment to a miniseries for Turner Network Television, also set for a 2005 debut. The not-yet-titled, 12-hour series about the settling of the American West is the first collaboration between Spielberg, DreamWorks and TNT.

"Just like he does when he has multiple movies and multiple projects going, I don't think it will affect us one bit," Hammer said. "No matter what Turner does, we're already ahead of the game, because we already know this team."