EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer David Semel has joined Fox’s 13-part docu-series Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, which is executive produced by Seth MacFarlane. Additionally, I hear the project, a sequel to Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking 1980 series, will also get a film treatment with an IMAX release. Semel is slated to direct all 13 episodes of the series as well as the related Cosmos feature. He also is expected to serve as an executive producer alongside MacFarlane, Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan and Mitchell Cannold, president of the Ithaca, NY-based Cosmos Studio, which will produce the series for Fox, with a second window on National Geographic. MacFarlane conceived the Cosmos redo with Sagan’s original collaborators – writer/producer Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter, with renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stepping in for Sagan as new host.
Like the 1980s series, which featured jaw-dropping for its time visual effects that allowed Sagan to walk through space, the new series and its big-screen offshoot also are expected to employ the latest special effects that should play especially well on the IMAX screens. Semel has experience blending narrative and visual effects, having directed the pilots for 2 superhero drama series, NBC’s Heroes and ABC’s No Ordinary Family. Cosmos reunites Semel with Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who ran NBC when Semel directed the pilots for the network series Heroes and Life. WME-repped Semel most recently helmed the pilot for CBS’ high-profile new drama series Person of Interest and, in a rare episodic stint, he is set to direct the much-buzzed-about 2-part Halloween episode of Ryan Murphy/Brad Falchuk’s new FX horror series American Horror Story, which features another Heroes alum, actor Zachary Quinto.