USA, Sci-Fi Unveil Their 2003 Originals

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Universal Television's USA Network and Sci-Fi Channel introduced an aggressive slate of original movies and specials for the upcoming season at the The Critics Association summer press tour here last week.

Fresh off the successful launch of its original series The Dead Zone, USA Network officials unveiled development plans for several miniseries projects for 2003, including a retelling of the King Tut legend, a revisiting of the religious Crusades, and remakes of classic movies Papillon
and Spartacus.

The general-entertainment network will also produce several crime-related miniseries and movies next year, including McCourt & Stein, about two investigators working on cases deemed too controversial for traditional law-enforcement agencies; and Track Of The Cat, about a forest ranger's pursuit of a murderer.

Also on tap for USA is Black Mass, a crime miniseries about the criminal intimacy of the FBI and the Irish Mob; and Dillinger, detailing the notorious exploits of the 1930s gangster.

On the limited-series front, USA will produce Point Deception, a summer mystery series originating from the world's most exclusive summer getaways; Paradigm, which looks at the nature of cults; Gone for Good, based on the relationships and mysteries surrounding one family; and Traffic, based on the Academy Award-nominated drug-oriented movie.

Several original movies are also in the works: notably Born To Fly, a true story about a U.S. spy plane the crashes in China; JFK and PT-109, a look at sinking of the future president's boat during World War II; Midnight Ride, produced by Robert Cochran (24) about Paul Revere's historic ride to warn American militias of an impending British attack in 1775; and Night Gallery, an updated version of the classic TV suspense show.

USA will produce Crimes of Passion, a reality show that focuses on true crimes revolving around jealousy and adultery, as well as Love Report, a late-night "news" show that discusses the world of love, relationships and sex.

USA Network president Doug Herzog said the new movies and miniseries will complement Dead Zone, which opened to record ratings last month, and Monk, which debuted July 12.

A BROADER SCI FI

The Dead Zone
will gain greater exposure via USA Network sister service Sci-Fi Channel, which will air repeats of the fantasy series Fridays beginning July 12, Sci Fi president Bonnie Hammer said.

The series is part of the network's bid to broaden its programming beyond space-oriented shows.

"Not everything is going to be out in space dealing with only aliens and spaceships, but we're not going to neglect our fan base," Hammer said. "We'll also have plenty of fare, action thrillers for our boy fans, and of course classic sci-fi as well."

To that end, Hammer said the network will debut 22 new "boy action movies" next year featuring non-stop, fast-moving action, Hammer said.

Other new movies scheduled for next year include remakes of the TV series Battlestar Galactica
and Quantum Leap.

The network is also scheduling several new series, including the network's first animated series, Tripping The Rift, based on a Web site of the same name. "We hope this will be our South Park," she said.

On the reality-series front, Sci Fi in January will bow The Dream Team, a show in which viewers will have their dreams analyzed during the telecast. In second-quarter 2003, the network will premiere a Candid Camera-like reality skein, The Scare Tactics
starring Shannen Doherty.

The network also announced it will present its 20-hour, Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries Taken
as 10 two-hour movies, beginning Dec. 1.

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