'Paranormal Investigators,' 'Mary Knows Best' to air in the summer

Syfy found an appropriate backdrop to unveil its slate of new and returning shows for the coming season: Gotham’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition of artwork by Tim Burton.

At its upfront event Tuesday, the NBC Universal cabler touted plans for a Thursday night block of reality shows: “Paranormal Investigators,” which aims to build on the net’s success with “Ghost Hunters,” and “Mary Knows Best,” revolving around a radio psychic and her family. Both shows will bow July 15.

Syfy prexy Dave Howe tub-thumped the new slate, including oddball superhero show “Three Inches,” and he talked up a series of vidgame initiatives such as a dedicated gaming website and a massive multiplayer online game set to launch simultaneously with a weekly series.

Other series pickups include “Ghost Hunters Academy” (a competish show with a supernatural theme), a skein about imaginary creatures called “Beast Legends” and fresh seasons of “Warehouse 13,” “Eureka,” “Ghost Hunters,” “Destination Truth,” “Caprica,” “Stargate Universe” and “Sanctuary.”

Previously announced selections for the upcoming season include scripted series “Haven” (based on the Stephen King novella “The Colorado Kid”), a U.S. version of the BBC supernatural hit “Being Human,” and “Three Inches,” a scripted comedy about a telekinetic who can move things in three-inch increments.

After months of enduring jokes about its transformation last summer from Sci Fi Channel to Syfy, the cabler had laugh at its own expense as part of its presentation to buyers who mingled amid the drawings, paintings and photographs by “Alice in Wonderland” helmer Burton. (Syfy is one of the exhibit’s sponsors.)

Howe aired a clip from “The Colbert Report” ribbing the cabler about the name change. Howe got the last laugh, however, as he noted that Syfy’s increase in original programming has made the channel competitive with the top echelon of basic cable, behind only USA, TNT and TBS in some key measures.

“It’s great to be able to build on success,” Howe told Daily Variety. “If we don’t fail big at this point, we’re not trying.”

Howe’s presentation was bare-bones and brief. The aud got a big laugh out of a vidclip featuring “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan, who is also host and exec producer of the Syfy skein “Scare Tactics.”

“My fear of modern art has kept me from being with you today,” Morgan said.

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