Syfy Orders Pilots For AI Drama ‘Cipher’ & Dark Comedy ‘(Future) Cult Classic’

By Nellie Andreeva, Denise Petski

Syfy has ordered pilots for two new scripted projects: father-son AI drama Cipher (working title) from Allison Miller (Strange Angel) and Rough House Pictures (Halloween), and dark comedy (Future) Cult Classic (working title) from Shay Hatten (Ballerina) and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video. The pilots, both produced by Universal Cable Prods., are casting and will go into production later this year.

Cipher and (Future) Cult Classic are part of Syfy’s continuous brand evolution. During the past couple of years, following the blockbuster success of The Magicians, the network scaled back on unscripted fare, instead making a major investment in premium scripted content with a focus on edgy, younger-skewing shows with offbeat, quirky, off-kilter sensibility, like breakout hit Happy!, the just premiered Deadly Class, upcoming animated late-night program Alien News Desk — also from Saturday Night Live producer Broadway Video — and the Resident Alien pilot.

Written by Miller, in Cipher, secret military technology is unexpectedly implanted in the brain of a 13-year-old video game junkie, when the boy and his father unwittingly find themselves at the center of the next great war — over artificial intelligence.

Miller will executive produce via her overall deal with UCP. David Gordon Green, Danny McBride, Jody Hill and Brandon James will executive produce for Rough House Pictures. Peter Hoar, who helmed  the pilot episode of UCP’s The Umbrella Academy for Netflix, will direct.

Written by Hatten, the darkly comedic (Future) Cult Classic combines the genres of slasher films, high school drama and speculative satire. It is set 18 years in the future and centers on a group of teens whose community is rocked by a 1990s slasher-movie obsessed serial killer. Our heroes quickly realize they’re being targeted and decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer—before time runs o

Tim Kirkby (Veep) will executive produce and direct the pilot. Broadway Video will executive produce.

“Cipher and (Future) Cult Classic are genre-bending stories with gripping scripts and talented creatives attached,” said Bill McGoldrick, President, Scripted Content, NBCU Cable Entertainment. “Both are very unique projects that we are excited to pilot as we look towards the future of Syfy.”

Added UCP President Dawn Olmstead, “It has been an inspiring process working with teams behind Cipher and (Future) Cult Classic. Allison Miller and Shay Hatten are rising stars who have created strong and diverse worlds that we are looking forward to bringing to life with our partners at Syfy.”

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