Syfy Upfronts 2013: Robert Zemeckis, Jamie Foxx Lead Ambitious Development Slate

By April 11, 2013
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In Wednesday’s UpFronts, Syfy announced some interesting projects they are taking to network for the coming year, including two standouts involving the likes of Robert Zemeckis and Jamie Foxx. With their semi-risky video game/TV project Defiance about to premiere next week, it’s looking like the folks at Syfy are sticking their necks out with regards to more cutting edge dramas.

Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) is teaming up with Syfy and Fox Television Studios to develop No Place, based on the Top Cow comic book The Test. David Alpert (The Walking Dead) and Rick Jacobs will also serve as executive producers on the series, in which residents of a high-tech gated community suddenly find themselves alone and cut off from the rest of reality. Sure, this sounds similar to the premise of Stephen King’s Under The Dome miniseries, but with Zemeckis on board, they’ll definitely be giving CBS some competition.

The second Oscar winner teaming up this year with Syfy is Jamie Foxx and his company “Foxxhole Productions”. He will develop a yet to be titled horror themed anthology series, in the same vein as Tales From The Crypt, that will be debuting during the network’s “31 Days Of Halloween” programming schedule this October. I’m sure Jamie Foxx will be appearing on screen in some fashion but it’s said his focus here is to write, direct and produce the series.

Aside from those big projects, there are more in the pipeline for Syfy, including projects from TV heavyweights like Bryan Fuller and Gale Anne Hurd as well as a little something from the fantastic horror production company Blumhouse (the peeps behind Sinister, Insidious and Paranormal Activity).

Let’s take a look at the roster, shall we?

“High Moon”

From Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal), High Moon is being described as “an imaginative, out-of-this-world series exploring what happens when the countries of Earth establish colonies to mine the Moon’s resources and discover a new form of life. Chaos erupts in a genuinely emotional, humorously thrilling and always unexpected fashion as the people of the Moon race to uncover this life form’s powerful secrets.”

With the recent successful premiere of Hannibal to NBC, here’s hoping Fuller can bring another project to TV that entertains and thrills as much as his previous outings.

“Orion”

From Ron Milbauer & Terri Hughes Burton (Alphas), this space opera follows an adventurous female relic hunter named Orion who tracks down valuable artifacts while trying to piece together her past. Set a midst an intergalactic war pitting humans against a terrifying alien race, Orion must decide whether to use her abilities to save herself or commit to the cause and unearth long hidden artifacts that could free all of humanity from a horrible fate.

Space opera? They may call her Orion, but I’m picturing Lara Croft. My bad…

“Sojourn”

From producer Jason Blum (Insidious, Purge) of Blumhouse Productions and writer Phil Levens (Smallville), Sojourn follows the first detective ever to be tasked with investigating a murder on a starship en route to colonize another planet. In the process, he becomes embroiled in a vast conspiracy involving a mysterious & terrible crime dating back to the original launch of the ship 50 years ago.

I have high hopes for this one. Blumhouse has quickly made a reputation for themselves in the horror community. Plus, this sounds like some Science Fiction Noir and I don’t know about you, but I’d love me some new Sci Fi Noir goodness to sink my teeth into.

“Infinity”

From writer Javier Grillo-Marxauch (LOST) and produced by Berman/Braun Television, Infinity will tell the story of an alien armada which is sighted in the region of Pluto. The Earth government turns to a young billionaire industrialist, who has the only ship ready for interstellar travel, to greet the aliens and avoid a catastrophe. Powered by secret alien technology discovered on Earth in the 1960’s, the ship engages in a firefight that sends them spinning through a wormhole into an uncharted region of space. Lost in the universe, the team struggles to survive as they encounter new planets and alien species, searching for a way back home.

Billionaire industrialist? Starship lost in the universe? Why is it I’m picturing Tony Stark flying The Enterprise here?

“Silver Shields”

Executive Producer/Writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Alphas) and Producer Aaron Kaplan team up for Silver Shields. Synopsis: When his father is slain by assassins connected to the government of the large nearby city of Pont Royal, farm boy Caymer journeys there to continue his father’s legacy as a member of the local police force — and to solve the mystery of his father’s death. He discovers that his simple country view on life is at odds with the big city, filled with orcs and other magical creatures.

Uh. Hmm. Yeah, you lost me at “magical creatures”.

“Clandestine”

From executive producers Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead) and John Shiban (Hell On Wheels), Clandestine takes place after a clan of bandits are nearly destroyed and left for dead by Coalition forces. They proceed to take refuge in the nearest safe haven, a derelict Coalition starship floating in space. Once onboard, they masquerade as Coalition officers while continuing their criminal ways – until they stumble upon a shocking realization about the true nature of the Coalition.

I’m a bit vague on this synopsis but with Gale Anne Hurd and John Shiban involved, one can only hope this will be the sci fi/western we’ve all been waiting for.

“Shelter”

From producer/writer Bruce Joel Rubin (Jacob’s Ladder, Ghost) and co-executive producer/writer Ari Rubin, Shelter send 30,000 hand-picked humans to live underground to a government funded shelter when a massive meteorite is discovered heading toward Earth. forcing 30,000 hand-picked humans What begins as a Utopia quickly succumbs to the old human faults and jealousies as certain members of society create alliances to gain favor and power. Meanwhile, things on the surface are not what they seem. Humans slowly realize that this event may have been fated and the survivors meant for a greater purpose in rebooting life on Earth.

There are some new Syfy reality series on the horizon including Joe Rogan Questions Everything (working title), in which paranormal mystery-addict Rogan seeks answers to life’s most startling theories; Cosworld (working title), a six-episode series follows some of the hottest cosplay stars as they make a splash at comic book conventions around the country; and Fandemonium a six-part documentary style series that celebrates the, ever growing in popularity, fan girl and fan boy culture.

But wait, there’s more!

Syfy is also set to develop a few miniseries based on science fiction novels, including Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. Joining them are previously announced miniseries: Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon and a few others which may spill over from last year’s UpFronts.

It’s been said there are over 100 pilots circulating the networks this year which is simply insane. With their development slate packed to the hilt with some interesting sounding projects, it’s pretty safe to say it’s going to be a busy year for Syfy. But will it be a successful one? Only time will tell.

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.