UPDATED: It came down to the wire for Syfy’s two drama pilots about people with special abilities, Alphas and Three Inches, which were both in serious contention for a series pickup. Syfy just made its final decision, giving Alphas an 11-episode order in addition to the 90-minute pilot. Production is slated to begin in Toronto early next year for a summer 2011 debut.
Alphas, from BermanBraun, UCP and writers Zak Penn and Michael Karnow, stars David Strathairn and follows a team of ordinary citizens who possess extraordinary and unusual mental skills. Penn and BermanBraun’s Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein are executive producing the series whose 90-minute pilot was directed by Lost director-producer Jack Bender. “With each step in the development and production of Alphas, we knew we were onto something very exciting,” said Syfy’s EVP original content Mark Stern. “Under Gail and Lloyd’s leadership, Zak and Michael created a smart, fast-paced script that attracted an amazing director in Jack Bender and an incredible cast.” Co-starring on Alphas are Warren Christie, Malik Yoba, Laura Mennell, Ryan Cartwright and Azita Ghanizada. Meanwhile, it is not over yet for Three Inches. “Three Inches is a terrific project that we continue to be interested in,” Stern said. We are working with the producers and production company to see if there’s a way to bring it to our air as well.
The series pickup is a happy ending for Alphas’ long journey to the screen. In its original incarnation as Section 8, the drama was taken to NBC more than 3 years ago through BermanBraun’s first-look deal there. After the network passed, the project sparked bidding among the other broadcast networks in summer 2007, landing at ABC with a six-episode production order for a possible midseason launch behind Lost. The show was in preproduction, with writing on the first episode underway, when the WGA strike brought work to a halt. After the strike, ABC had to alter its plans for the show. That and creative differences over the show’s sci-fi elements, which the network was uncomfortable with, led to ABC eventually dropping the project. It was then pitched to Syfy, which, after some redevelopment, ordered it to pilot in summer 2009.