Steven Spielberg and writer Les Bohem have begun batting around ideas for “Nine Lives,” the otherworldly trilogy they’ll exec produce with DreamWorks TV for the Sci Fi Channel.
Bohem, who wrote Sci Fi’s 20-hour mini “Taken” under Spielberg’s aegis, said it’s still too early to outline the plot of “Nine Lives,” and even the number of hours is not resolved. Bohem, who’ll write the entire mini with Spielberg’s guidance, and Darryl Frank, co-head (with Justin Falvey) of DreamWorks TV, both say they’re looking at a total of 18 hours, whereas Sci Fi Channel prexy Bonnie Hammer maintains “Nine Lives” could end up as 12 hours.
Everyone agrees that “Nine Lives” will be much different from “Taken” in that it won’t span a number of generations or feature aliens and spaceships. But whatever the final length, the likely production cost will fall in the $2 million-an-hour range, like “Taken.”
Sci Fi aims to have Bohem to complete the “Nine Lives” script in 2004, when production will start, with multiple directors, for a 2005 airdate.
The mini “won’t be dark,” said Hammer. “Les writes characters and relationships — the trilogy will be complicated, edgy and suspenseful.”
A statement from Sci Fi calls the mini “an epic story of love, death and beyond.” Hammer uses the adjective “otherworldly” to describe the content, and Bohem said he’ll definitely create an imaginative picture of what he calls “the other side” that will be “scary and disturbing.”
“Don’t forget,” said Hammer, “Sci Fi is the network that brought you ‘Crossing Over With John Edward,’ ” in which Edward conjures up the spirits of departed relatives, allowing audience members to communicate with them.
Although Sci Fi will schedule “Nine Lives” as three distinct parts, separated by weeks or months, Frank said DreamWorks will film the three “all at once, like ‘the Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.”
Hammer said Sci Fi may go for one or two well-known actors in the key roles in “Nine Lives”; “Taken” used an ensemble cast because no one character stood out as the story stretched over 50 years of American history.