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Thesp uncorks animation gig

Giamatti's voice in 'Head'

Paul Giamatti has signed with Sci Fi Channel to voice the lead character in the animated series pilot “Amazing Screw-On Head,” from exec producers Bryan Fuller (“Wonderfalls”) and Jason Netter.

Cabler last year quietly commissioned the pilot, based on Mike Mignola’s (“Hellboy”) comicbook of the same name.

David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon and Patton Oswalt also will lend their voices to the project.

Giamatti will voice Screw-On Head, a Civil War-era secret agent at the service of president Abraham Lincoln and an unsung hero who never made it into the history books. His special power is the ability to screw his head onto a variety of different bodies. Hyde Pierce plays Emperor Zombie, Shannon voices Patience the Vampire and Oswalt is Mr. Groin.

Sci Fi exec VP of programming Mark Stern, an admitted “comicbook geek,” said he’s been hanging onto the project for more than three years, since before he joined the cabler.

“Before I arrived here, it was always something that was percolating. I knew it was interesting, if not a hard sell to a network. Fortunately, … (USA/Sci Fi prexy Bonnie Hammer) got it and loved it and thought it was the exact kind of weird, twisted animated project we need to be doing.”

“Screw-On Head” has a “bit of James Bond” but with a “completely absurdist twist,” Stern said. “It’s like the 1860s kind of wild, wild West … on acid.” Cabler execs hope to see a finished pilot by early next year.

Second season of Sci Fi’s animated comedy “Tripping the Rift” begins July 27. Stern said Sci Fi is developing three or four more animated series in addition to “Screw-On Head” to serve as a companion to “Tripping,” including “The Barbarian Chronicles” with Brendon Small (“Home Movies”).

Cabler is soon expected to pick up at least one of its hourlong pilots, “Painkiller Jane” and “Eureka,” by end of summer.

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