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Sci Fi counting on ’13’

Network unlocks 'Warehouse'

Sci Fi Channel has greenlit the pilot “Warehouse 13,” an “X-Files”-meets-“Moonlighting” take on two FBI agents in charge of a top-secret storage facility.

Two-hour pilot will shoot later this fall for a potential series berth next summer. Universal Media Studios is behind the drama written by Rockne O’Bannon, Jane Espenson and D. Brent Mote.

Channel is still determining who will remain as an exec producer beyond the pilot should “Warehouse 13” go to series.

Project joins the actioner “Revolution” in rounding out the cabler’s pilot slate this fall.

According to Sci Fi original programming exec VP Mark Stern, “Warehouse 13” arose directly out of the channel’s mandate to expand the scope of its original fare in order to reach wider auds, including women.

“This plays into our agenda,” Stern said. “It’s set in the present, it celebrates imagination, yet it’s meant to broaden out our audience reach.”

Comedic drama follows two agents — a man and woman — as they’re given a “promotion” to head up the hush-hush “Warehouse 13” in South Dakota. Facility is home to a collection of strange materials collected by the government. The pair are charged with hunting down missing objects and discovering new ones — and then bringing them back to the vaults.

“There’s something rich about that whole concept,” Stern said. “It’s a huge storehouse, a ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’-style spot described as America’s attic.”

Just as a romance starts to develop between the two lead characters, one of the mysterious artifacts brings the female FBI agent’s dead partner back to life — creating quite the bizarre love triangle.

“It’s a great mix of continuing stories and closed-ended ones,” Stern said. “It’s a nice, clean franchise.”

Running more standalone skeins has been a goal at Sci Fi Channel, which has earned raves for serialized skeins including “Battlestar Galactica” — but such shows find it difficult to recruit new viewers unfamiliar with plotlines.

Hence the addition of more quirky, but easily approachable fare like “Eureka.” Cabler also has another dramedy in the works, the Fox TV Studios entry “Earthlings.”

“That works very well for us,” Stern said of “Eureka.”

Also at Sci Fi, channel just announced that it has ordered a new, 20-episode fifth season of the original skein “Stargate Atlantis.” A spinoff of the long-running “Stargate: SG-1,” show resumes production early next year.

” ‘Atlantis’ truly came out from under the shadow of its sister series this year and proved that it’s a hit in its own right,” said Stern.

“Stargate Atlantis” hails from MGM TV; show airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on Sci Fi.

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