Network orders two-hour sci-fi pilot
Fox is star struck with “Virtuality,” ordering a two-hour back-door space-themed pilot from BermanBraun and “Battlestar Galactica” alums Ron Moore and Michael Taylor.Universal Media Studios is behind the sci-fi drama, which follows 12 astronauts who are sent on a 10-year journey to find a distant solar system. The explorers pass the time by hooking up to advanced virtual reality modules to explore self-created worlds. But they discover someone has downloaded a computer bug into the system — and one of them may be the saboteur. Moore, Taylor, Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman are on board to exec produce “Virtuality,” which originally came from an idea kicked around by Braun; both Braun and Berman shaped the idea and pitched it to writers around town. Moore and Taylor floated toward the idea. “Virtuality” also comes with a hefty online component: As part of the plot, the space voyage is funded by a reality show that features the trip being streamed back to Earth. That “reality show” will be produced as webisodes, featuring the same cast members. NBC passed on the concept, which insiders said was too sci-fi for Peacock tastes. Over at Fox, entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly bought the project almost immediately. Moore and Taylor “have taken a complex concept and made it incredibly accessible,” he said. “For all the times we’ve read that a project has a ‘unique point of view,’ it rarely applies. This time it does — in spades.” Meanwhile, insiders said helmer Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”) is close to signing as the pilot’s director. Producers have an eye toward shooting “Virtuality” this summer. If all goes well, the project could be geared toward an event launch next February. “It really is Fox putting their money where their mouth is in terms of Kevin’s desire to do year-round development,” said Universal Media Studios prexy Katherine Pope. “They really stepped up.” Berman and Braun said they felt the show was “in the right hands.” The project reps a homecoming for former Fox Entertainment topper Berman. It’s been a busy year for BermanBraun, which is behind the ABC gamer “Duel” and also the Alphabet action project “Section 8.” The company has several reality skeins at NBC, along with Thom Beers’ Original Media, as part of a development deal there.