SyFy continues its run at bringing more sci-fi and fantasy to their programming with the green-lighting for a pilot episode of author Lev Grossman‘s fantasy series The Magicians. What I can’t understand is how this didn’t end up on the CW. Not that I’m complaining, anything that keeps SyFy moving back to its roots of sci-fi and fantasy television is a good thing. Haven’t read The Magicians series yet? Click through to find out what’s what.
The official press release:
SYFY GREENLIGHTS PILOT OF THE MAGICIANS,
ADAPTATION OF LEV GROSSMAN’S BEST-SELLING FANTASY SERIES
TO BE PRODUCED BY UNIVERSAL CABLE PRODUCTIONS
SCRIPT BY JOHN MCNAMARA (Prime Suspect) AND SERA GAMBLE (Supernatural) WITH MICHAEL LONDON (MILK) AS PRODUCER
NEW YORK – July 10, 2014 – Continuing its strategy to create bold and distinctive sci-fi fantasy drama, Syfy today announced that it has greenlit a pilot of The Magicians, an adaptation of Lev Grossman’s best-selling fantasy book series which has been published in 22 countries.
From Universal Cable Productions, the pilot script was written by John McNamara (Prime Suspect) and Sera Gamble (Supernatural). Michael London (Milk) and Janice Williams (All Good Girls) are set to produce.
The one-hour drama follows 20-somethings who, while studying magic in New York, discover that the magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real and poses a grave danger to humanity.
In making the announcement, Dave Howe, President, Syfy, said: “Lev Grossman’s dazzling blend of magic and realism will capture the imagination of a new generation of viewers and further strengthen Syfy’s ownership of premium quality sci-fi fantasy drama.”
Now you can see why I couldn’t believe that the CW passed up on this. Its right up their hot-young-people style of show. The concept originally got picked up over at FOX, but never got past the scripting stage. Grossman talked about the deal falling through on his blog:
This Is a Hard Post to Write
So January is the beginning of what — in the accursed, eternally burning nation of TV-land — is known as pilot season. That’s when the networks pick some of the series they have in development and greenlight them, meaning they’re actually going to cast and film a pilot episode.
It’s an exciting time. Except if your series doesn’t get greenlit.
The Magicians show was not greenlit.
This is a hard post to write. I’m really, really disappointed. I also feel bad that I got everybody excited about the project, only to have it immediately fail. I promise you — and I can’t stress this enough — I wouldn’t have done that unless I had some very good reasons to think that the show would in fact be greenlit. In fact I’m pretty stunned that it wasn’t.
I guess those reasons weren’t ironclad. Or maybe they were ironclad but not, I don’t know, adamantium-clad.
At any rate, clearly there was an issue with the cladding.
I don’t have a lot of good information as to why it didn’t happen. I don’t deal with network directly, and even beyond that the networks are pretty black-box about stuff like this: they don’t give out a lot of detail about their decision-making process. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that it has something to do with Terra Nova not doing as well as Fox hoped, so they weren’t anxious to go for another high-profile, high-concept, expensive genre show.
But that’s just speculation. I can’t imagine The Magicians would have been as expensive as Terra Nova. For one thing there aren’t half as many acceraptors in it.
From here the way forward for the show gets rockier, obviously. We’re going to take the script to cable networks. We’re also going to renew talks on the feature-film side. I can’t say I’m bitter about it. I wouldn’t have played my cards differently — we got exactly the right people and exactly the right script. It would have been incredible. It still will be, if we can get it to go somewhere else.
But no question, it’s a big disappointment. We had a really good shot this time, and it didn’t work out.
I have to say that I jumped over to his blog to see what I might find to put into this post, but stayed and read more because his blogging style is very entertaining and informative. He later posted about the SyFy deal, and you can tell that now he has developed a sense of humor about the Hollywood process.
The Post About the Syfy Deal
And when I say the Syfy deal I mean this.
This is going to be a pretty short post, because I can’t say much about it. The important things to know are four in number.
1. This is a whole different deal from the Fox deal. The producer is the same, but everything else is different, including the writers, Sera Gamble and John McNamara. We started from scratch.
2. I’m involved in an advisory capacity. I’m not writing, but I see all the drafts.
3. I’m very, very psyched about it. We’ve been working on this since last August, and it’s just gotten better and better.
4. Most important: this is as yet a development deal, which because I’m now a Hollywood Insider I know means that Syfy is working with us on the script and generally figuring out what the show should look like, but they haven’t committed to making it yet. In fact I wasn’t going to say anything about it at all until it was greenlit, but since it’s out there I thought I should address it.
And now I have. I’ll answer questions in the comments, if I can.
Meanwhile keep sending in those videos for the trailer. They’re coming in, and they’re great, but I haven’t been deluged yet. I want to be deluged.
You see what I am talking about? I have to say that while this series was near the bottom of my Recommended-By-A-Friend-To-Read List, it just jumped up to the top five on the list, all because what I’ve read on his blog. Now we’ll have to see what SyFy can do with this series and if it can get that coveted green light to series, but I find myself hoping it does.
The two writers listed, Sera Gamble and John McNamara are interesting choices for this series. Gamble has done work on Supernatural while McNamara wrote some of the episodes of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. one of my personal favorite Canceled-Too-Soon shows. I’d love to see elements of both those shows brought to The Magicians table.
Really, anything that pushes SyFy toward more sci-fi and fantasy series is good in my opinion. I love Wrestling and Ghost Hunting as much as the next guy… well that isn’t exactly true. I don’t mind wrestling and will watch it with friends. I loath those Ghost/Monster Hunting shows that are bursting with more of crap than a one year old’s diaper that hasn’t been changed in two days. Seriously, those shows are the worst.
How do you feel about the chances of The Magicians making it past the pilot stage to full series?