O'Bannon thriller put on Frog fast track

The WB is providing shelter for “Cult,” making a put pilot commitment to the thriller written on spec by “Farscape” creator Rockne S. O’Bannon.

Warner Bros. TV will produce the project, which is on the fast track at the Frog. Net has given a cast-contingent pilot pickup to the hourlong, and talks are under way about hiring a cast director. A significant penalty is attached to the project.

Several nets were interested in “Cult,” with entertainment toppers at four nets taking the pitch. It’s believed the WB’s strong interest led to a quick deal.

O’Bannon, who penned the upcoming Bryan Singer/Dean Devlin mini “Triangle” for the Sci Fi Channel, said he decided to go the Marc Cherry route and write “Cult” on spec because of the complicated nature of the show.

“I needed to present it on the page so people knew what I intended. It’s a tough one to verbalize in a couple of sentences,” he told Daily Variety.

His goal: To create what he calls “a very creepy, gets-under-your-skin kind of thriller.”

In “Cult” the two lead characters try to get to the bottom of a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances that may be linked to fans of a TV show called … “Cult.”

The fictional “Cult” is a “very ‘Silence of the Lambs’/’Seven’-like thriller,” O’Bannon said.

In addition to the usual die-hard Trekkie-like fan base, the fictional “Cult” also has “a whole other level of people watching and reaching out to each other. There’s a dangerous aspect to it.”

Series leads will “try to figure out what this subculture is all about.

“There’s an element of ‘Da Vinci Code’ discovery as they start to peel back the layers of this mystery,” scribe added.

In addition to “Farscape,” O’Bannon has created a number of cult faves, including the early 1990s Fox skein “Alien Nation” (based on O’Bannon’s feature) and the pilot for the Steven Spielberg-produced NBC actioner “SeaQuest DSV.”

Deal for “Cult” follows O’Bannon’s recent signing with the Kaplan-Stahler-Gumer-Braun Agency; he had been at CAA.

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