Sci Fi's Planning More Spielberg Epics


New York— A sequel to Taken may not be in Sci Fi Channel's future, but the network will take on a new venture with Steven Spielberg and the production team behind last December's hit maxiseries.

Spielberg, DreamWorks Television and Taken
writer and producer Leslie Boehm are discussing plans for a trio of six-hour miniseries, each one slated to start on Sci Fi within a three-month period starting in 2004, according to the network.

The programs will have the same concept and characters, and if successful, will become ongoing franchises for the service.

"We want to do something as rich with them as Lord of the Rings
or Harry Potter," explained Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer at a press briefing here on March 31. "We don't want to repeat Taken. This is about creating a set of epic events."

With Sci Fi's original programming budget set to double over the next few years, Hammer unveiled projects intended to run in 2004 and 2005. Eight new drama series are in development, joining the previously announced projects Anonymous Rex, the revival of Quantum Leap
and comic-book adaptations 1000 Days
and Brother Voodoo. One such project is an adaptation of the comic Painkiller Jane, a two-hour backdoor pilot.

Dead Lawyers, another DreamWorks project about attorneys who return from the dead to straighten out miscarriages of justices they caused, is on Sci Fi's series fast track. So are Legion, a look at demons, for which Whoopi Goldberg serves as co-executive producer; The Divide, a supernatural crime tale from The Dead Zone
distributor Lions Gate; and Stargate SG-1
spin-off Stargate: Atlantis.

The network, whose primetime household ratings grew by 33 percent in the first quarter, also gave the green light to a pair of 2004 miniseries: Six Days 'til Sunday, in which a victim attempts to solve his own murder (the show unfolds one hour at a time over six days); and The Thing, a TV remake of the 1950's film classic.

Production started last Tuesday on Sci Fi's four-hour miniseries revival of Battlestar Galactica, starring Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, and slated for a December bow.

Sci Fi is also making deeper explorations into other genres. On the heels of Scare Tactics,
which premiered last Friday, three more reality series are in the hopper: Life on Mars, Lab Rats
and Mad Mad House.