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April 23, 2014

Syfy Channel 2010: More Reality, More Games

by Bryan Reesman, posted Mar 23rd 2010 4:30PM
Syfy upfrontThings keep moving onward and upward for Syfy. 'Warehouse 13' is their biggest hit ever. The 'Ghost Hunters' franchise now spans three series. Despite the controversial name change from Sci Fi to, well, Syfy, the channel will be rolling out an increase of 30 percent new programming over the coming year, from original scripted series to reality shows that will include everything from the look inside the family of a Long Island radio psychic to a cooking show.

At last week's Syfy Channel Upfront at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Syfy president Dave Howe pushed the "Syfy Effect" concept to advertisers and announced a whole slew of new and returning shows. Reality television is the new priority for the network. Not only will 'Destination Truth,' 'Scare Tactics' and the 'Ghost Hunters' triumvirate soldier on, but the channel has no less than 11 new reality series in the works (some announced prior to the event), including the self-explanatory 'Paranormal Investigators' and 'Paranormal Files'.Syfy upfrontThings keep moving onward and upward for Syfy. 'Warehouse 13' is their biggest hit ever. The 'Ghost Hunters' franchise now spans three series. Despite the controversial name change from Sci Fi to, well, Syfy, the channel will be rolling out an increase of 30 percent new programming over the coming year, from original scripted series to reality shows that will include everything from the look inside the family of a Long Island radio psychic to a cooking show.

At last week's Syfy Channel Upfront at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Syfy president Dave Howe pushed the "Syfy Effect" concept to advertisers and announced a whole slew of new and returning shows. Reality television is the new priority for the network. Not only will 'Destination Truth,' 'Scare Tactics' and the 'Ghost Hunters' triumvirate soldier on, but the channel has no less than 11 new reality series in the works (some announced prior to the event), including the self-explanatory 'Paranormal Investigators' and 'Paranormal Files'.

Other forthcoming reality shows include:

• 'Marcel's Quantum Kitchen': 'Top Chef' molecular gastronomist Marcel Vigneron and his team face new client challenges each week.

• 'Beast Legends': Computer graphics help conjure images of mythical beasts researched by a globetrotting animal doctor, professor of evolutionary biology, illustrator and mythology maven.

• 'The Dome Experiment': A psychological and sociological experiment placing twelve people together to survive in a completely sealed bio-environment.

• Face Off': A competition show between cutting edge make-up artists.

• 'Force of Nature': Follows the exploits of Ariel Towne, Feng Shui master for hire, and his attempts to help and enlighten his clients.

• 'The Latimer Project': Takes a look inside the work of starring Jason Latimer, three time World Champion of Magic and owner of the Latimer Corp illusion design firm.

'Mr. Impossible': A look inside the world of "rogue inventor" Dezso Molnar and his mind-boggling inventions.

'Untitled Artifact Search Series': Executive producers Michael Agbadian and Dwight Smith go Indiana Jones on us and seek out famous relics and artifacts from around the world.

One forthcoming Syfy reality series that already had a trailer is 'Mary Knows Best,' which Howe said stars "the very outspoken, Sirius radio psychic and Long Island mom Mary Occhino and her new holds-barred family. They are 'The Osbournes' for the psychic world." The trailer lived up to that description -- supernatural and domestic drama ensue.

'Mary Knows Best' and the tentatively titled 'Paranormal Investigators' arrive in July.

Adding to the reality news was a special video announcement from 'Scare Tactics' host Tracy Morgan, who proclaimed, "My fear of modern art has made it impossible for me to be there with you tonight. But I've got big news: I'm the new executive producer of 'Scare Tactics,' and stuff's about to get a lot crazier. I'm talking profit, bitches!"

Don't fret, sci-fi scripted series fans. It's not all reality programming on the roster. On top of returning fiction series 'Warehouse 13,' 'Caprica,' 'Eureka,' 'Sanctuary' and 'Stargate Universe,' there are three new fiction series on the way: 'Being Human,' 'Three Inches' and 'Haven'.

'Being Human' is inspired by the hit BBC series of the same name, which focuses on three twentysomething, supernatural roommates -- a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. But rather than merely be an American knock-off, this show aspires to be something different than its predecessor. "The great thing is we are not going to slavishly re-create it," revealed Howe to AOL. "We are going to take the essence, the characters and the story arc, and actually take what works in the British series, then make it work for an American audience. Mark Stern and his team are working with the executive producer and a whole new team of writers, and they're basically going to reinvent it for a U.S. audience in a smart way."

'Three Inches,' on the other hand, is a complete original. As Howe explained to AOL: "It's an unconventional team of superheroes, and the lead guy's super power is that he can kinetically move something, but he can only movie it three inches. Each of the team has a superpower, but it is limited, so they have to collectively pool their superpowers to make anything happen. It's a dramedy with a sense of humor, but it also has those other elements that a great sci-fi show has. It will have a mission. It will have a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. They'll be solving puzzles and crimes and all that stuff. It's a very exciting, simple, clean concept."

'Haven' is a new series based upon the Stephen King novella 'The Colorado Kid'. (AOL TV will post an exclusive interview with star Emily Rose soon.) The actress has said that the series will use the story as a starting point and not be a literal translation to the small screen. It starts shooting in April and begins airing in July.

Beyond these series ventures, Howe announced that Syfy will be working with "premiere interactive entertainment companies THQ and Worldwide Biggies" to develop "new transmedia entertainment properties, including our very first sci-fi kids characters, with the highly colorful de Blob and the high-octane Meet Dr What."

"This upfront will also be heralding the launch of our groundbreaking joint venture with high-tech videogame company Trion Worldwide," he said. "We're co-developing and co-launching a subscription-based, massive multi-player online game that will launch simultaneously with a weekly original series. For all of the gamers out there, we're unveiling a new, stand-alone site dedicated to online gaming."

Launching in Spring 2010, Howe continued, "SyfyGames.com will be the ultimate destination for 24/7 gaming." Syfy Games has already lined up 'War of Titans,' 'Terminator Salvation,' 'Rover Racer' and 'Green Mahjong,' among other games.

Despite what seems like an overwhelming roster of programming and gaming activity, Howe was excited about Syfy's burgeoning growth. "I think Syfy's time has come," he told AOL TV."If you look at the success of 'Avatar' and 'Alice In Wonderland' and the success of genre at the box office, it's not a niche, narrow genre. It's a mainstream, blockbuster genre that has everything from traditional science fiction to supernatural /paranormal to superheroes to action-adventure. It's got something for everyone."

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