Lev Grossman’s best-selling fantasy book trilogy The Magicians is headed to Syfy’s primetime as the network has given a 12-episode series order to its pilot. The project hails from Michael London’s Groundswell Productions, Universal Cable Productions and writers John McNamara (Aquarius) and Sera Gamble (Supernatural).
Based upon Grossman’s books— the first of which was published in 2009 — The Magicians stars Jason Ralph (A Most Violent Year) as Quentin Coldwater, a brilliant grad student who enrolls in Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, a secret upstate New York university specializing in magic. He and his twentysomething friends soon discover that the magical fantasy world they read about as children is all too real — and poses a grave danger to humanity. Stella Maeve (Chicago P.D.), Hale Appleman (Teeth), Arjun Gupta (Nurse Jackie) and Summer Bishil (Towelhead) also star in the one-hour drama, executive produced by Groundswell Productions’ London and Janice Williams as well as McNamara and Gamble. Mike Cahill (I Origins) directed the pilot. The series will begin shooting in Vancouver in July.
“The Magicians pilot beautifully delivers a world filled with wonder, fantasy and intrigue,” said Syfy President Dave Howe. “We can’t wait to delve deeper into the lives of Quentin and his college friends as they struggle with the enormity of their burgeoning powers — and unleash them upon the world.”
London, who originally optioned the books, first set up a drama adaptation of The Magicians at Fox in 2011 with Ashley Miller & Zack Stentz as writers. That incarnation did not get a green light, but London redeveloped the project with McNamara and Gamble and took it to Syfy.
“Ever since The Magicians was published, I’ve wanted to see this story onscreen,” said Grossman. “The people, the school, the other worlds, the magic. I’m so thrilled that it’s finally happening, and I’m beyond thrilled that we found the right people to do it.”
This is the second drama project London has navigated from one network to another, leading to a green light. On Friday, FX gave a pilot order to John Singleton’s Snowfall, also produced by London, which originally was set up at Showtime.
The Magicians joins Syfy’s roster of scripted and development projects, including the upcoming 10-part series The Expanse, starring Thomas Jane; Arthur C. Clarke miniseries Childhood’s End, also set to premiere this December; Gale Anne Hurd’s 13-episode thriller Hunters; David Goyer’s Superman prequel Krypton; and Incorporated, a thriller pilot from Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.