Sci Fi puts faith in ‘Believer’ comic

'Galactica' prequel also gets greenlight

Sci Fi Channel has given the go-ahead to “Caprica,” a prequel of “Battlestar Galactica” in the form of a two-hour backdoor pilot, and has signed Rosario Dawson to develop “True Believer,” the pilot for a proposed series based on a comicbook she co-created.

These were two of the highlights of Sci Fi Channel’s upfront presentation Tuesday night at New York City’s Morgan Library delivered by David Howe, president of the network.

Sci Fi’s goal is keep its momentum going through a calibrated mix of scripted original series, first-run reality series, commissioned low-budget movies, reruns of series including “Lost” and “Jericho,” theatrical movies and occasional miniseries.

Sci Fi said it’s bringing back its stunt-reality series “Scare Tactics” with a new host, comedian Tracy Morgan. The network also said it’s developing two more scripted pilots that could become series: “The Stranded,” the first project of a joint venture created last year by Sci Fi and Virgin Comics to put together comicbooks with TV potential, and “Deputized,” a comedy drama about an Everyman who accidentally gets special powers that he uses as a member of an intergalactic police force.

And the writer-director Nick Willing and his exec producers Robert Halmi Sr. and Jr., who created Sci Fi’s runaway-hit miniseries “Tin Man,” based loosely on “Wizard of Oz,” have agreed to tackle “Alice in Wonderland” as the source of another potential mini. Sci Fi will call it “Alice.”

“Battlestar Galactica” is concluding its 3½-year run with 20 final episodes this year. Its “Caprica” prequel begins production in Vancouver in the spring. Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, the exec producers of “Galactica,” will join with Universal Media Studios to work on “Caprica.” Remi Aubuchon will co-write the “Caprica” pilot with Moore, and Jeff Reiner will direct it. Casting begins soon.

“True Believer” focuses on a comicbook nerd who hires a down-at-heels superhero, the duo pairing up to become crime fighters. Dawson is exec producer, and her co-author on the Image Comics book “Occult Crimes Task Force,” David Atchinson, will write the script of “Believer” with Matthew Spradlin and Tom Feister.

In addition to “Scare Tactics,” Sci Fi will bring back two other reality series: “Ghost Hunters International,” a spinoff of “Ghost Hunter,” and “Mind Control With Derren Brown.” Brown is the British mentalist.

Sci Fi also said it will beef up its Internet presence with more original entertainment, a more elaborate gaming site and a number of initiatives linked to the final season of “Battlestar.”

And the network has persuaded Richard Branson to join the board of its “Visions of Tomorrow” public affairs blueprint “to champion,” said Sci Fi’s Howe, “a fresh and hopeful outlook on the future.”

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