Big creators transforming Sci Fi’s sked

'Firestarter' sequel, 'Babylon 5' movie in the works

This story was corrected on March 21, 2001.

NEW YORK — Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and Clive Barker are putting together original programming for the Sci Fi Channel.

Web, which already schedules more original scripted series in primetime than any other cable net, is jumping into telepics and miniseries in a more elaborate way than ever:

  • Philip Eisner will write “Firestarter: The Next Chapter,” a four-hour sequel to King’s novel and movie “Firestarter,” picking up the characters 20 years later. Tom Thayer is executive producer of the Studios USA production, with Robert Iscove set as director. Sci Fi will announce the cast soon.

  • Barker (“Hellraiser,” “Candyman”) will produce “Saint Sinner,” his first movie for Sci Fi, about a 19th century monk who accidentally unleashes two buxom female demons in human form on the world and has to track them down to contemporary Los Angeles. Doris Egan is working with Barker on the script.

  • Another “Babylon 5” movie is in the works, called “The Legend of the Rangers,” which could be a backdoor pilot. Sci Fi now strips “Babylon 5” reruns at 7 p.m. Doug Netter and J. Michael Straczynski are the executive producers of the movie, through Warner Bros. TV.

  • Spielberg’s previously announced 20-hour epic miniseries “Taken,” a co-production of Sci Fi and DreamWorks TV, is finally going into pre-production, with Les Bohem signed as executive producer. The script starts with an alien abduction in the late 1940s and spans 50 years in the lives of three extended families.

Series shuffle

On series, Sci Fi is pulling “Invisible Man” from Monday and shifting it back to Friday to join the network’s highest-rated ongoing series, “Farscape,” and new episodes of “The Outer Limits” anthology.

Bonnie Hammer, exec VP and general manager of Sci Fi Channel, says the competition for primetime viewership on Monday is so fierce that she is making Saturday the network’s second night of original series. The veteran series “First Wave,” from Francis Ford Coppola’s company, will anchor Saturday. Two acquired series, “Black Scorpion” and “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne,” which didn’t find an audience on Friday, will get another chance on Saturday.

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