Film division wants director to concentrate on 'X-Men' sequel

NEW YORK — The relaunch of “Battlestar Galactica” has been grounded, at least temporarily.

The sci-fi series, being worked up for a comeback by “X-Men” director Bryan Singer through Studios USA for the Fox Network, had its countdown canceled because Singer couldn’t direct the pilot.

Singer has been the driving force behind a recent deal to resurrect “Battlestar Galactica,” the Glen Larson-created series that premiered on ABC in 1978 and starred Lorne Greene as the commander of the title vessel. Singer loved the series as a kid, and after gaining clout in sci-fi circles by turning the Marvel Comics franchise “X-Men” into a profitable feature he was able to persuade Studios USA to revive the concept.

He teamed with Tom DeSanto and USA brought in the Fox Network to air the series, with a plan to put subsequent airings on the Sci Fi Channel. Dan Angel and Billy Brown were brought aboard to write the pilot and run the show, and Singer became so excited that he very much wanted to direct it.

This seems to have caused some intramural sparring at Fox that cost the show its momentum. FBC brass loved the idea of Singer directing, but the feature film division wasn’t nearly as supportive. The studio wanted Singer’s full concentration on its “X-Men” sequel, which is one of the studio’s most important projects in development, on course for a fall 2002 release.

Preparations were made for the pilot to be shot in Vancouver in early 2002 so that the network could have it ready for the May upfronts. While all parties knew from the onset that Singer would only direct if his “X-Men” schedule allowed it, his absence dampened FBC’s enthusiasm. While attempts were made to salvage the pilot by bringing in another big sci-fi director like Nick Meyer (who helmed two “Star Trek” films, including “The Wrath of Khan”), FBC dropped out.

The pilot is costly, and speculatation is that the network might have grown conservative after its pricey and heavily hyped series “24” didn’t get smash numbers in its intitial episode, even though it rallied when the episode was rebroadcast last Friday.

Regardless of the reason, the network confirmed it beamed off “Battlestar Galactica” when it became clear Singer wouldn’t be its director. Whether Singer or USA will try to revive the pilot after Singer completes “X-Men 2″ is is being hashed out behind the scenes this week.

Studios USA declined comment and Singer’s reps didn’t return calls.

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