EXCLUSIVE: Spike TV has pushed the pause button on Red Mars, its 10-episode straight-to-series drama adaptation of Kim Stanley Robinson’s best-selling “hard” science-fiction trilogy. The move comes as executive producer/showrunner Peter Noah has exited the project, produced by Skydance TV.
“We will continue to develop Red Mars with Skydance,” a spokesman for Spike TV said in a statement to Deadline. “The Red Mars trilogy is one of the most beloved, modern science fiction properties, in part because of its tremendous scope and ambition. We are pausing to ensure we get the script right and to deliver fans what they want — a fantastic show that fully captures the spirit of these wonderful books.”
Spike TV has had a rough re-entry in the scripted series arena. The network in August gave a straight-to-series order to Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Harvest as its first drama series in a decade. That series fell through in November, and a couple of weeks later, Spike TV picked up Red Mars, written and executive produced by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski, which had been in development at the network. Skydance TV came on board as a studio.
I hear Straczynski, who had written the pilot script out of his passion for the books, had the option to stay on as showrunner or leave and keep an executive producer credit. The writer, who had been busy in features and TV, opted for the latter, and Noah came in as showrunner. He has now departed too over what I heard were creative differences with Spike. There is no immediate replacement, leading to the break in pre-production. The move comes days after Greg Yaitanes was announced as director and executive producer on the series.
With production delayed, Red Mars‘ original premiere date, January 2017, will be pushed too. Since the Red Mars series order, Spike TV gave a pilot order to The Mist, based on Stephen King’s novel. That project conceivably can go on the air sooner if picked up to series.
The Red Mars TV series, named after the first book in the trilogy, chronicles the colonization and terraforming transformation of Mars into a place where humans can live sustainably. It is executive produced by Yaitanes, Vince Gerardis as well as Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Marcy Ross.
The three novels — Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994) and Blue Mars (1996), which have won Nebula and Hugo awards — are noted not only for their rigorous attention to scientific detail, based on at-the-time current science and speculative science, but for the the large cast of widely different and richly detailed characters followed over the course of decades and centuries, as well as the somewhat utopian social and political ideals the novels explore. They’re regarded in many quarters as the best books written on the subject of interplanetary colonization, and a holy grail for science fiction fans.