Discovery preps to rebrand web

The Science Channel is dropping the “Channel” to become simply Science, and is announcing new programming to accompany the rebrand — notably “Prophets of Science Fiction,” produced for Science by Ridley and Tony Scott and hosted by Ridley Scott.

The rebrand of the Discovery Communications cabler will roll out June 8, pegged to the season two preem of “Through the Wormhole.”

“Prophets” explores ideas in sci-fi novels and films that predated real-life changes in technology — sometimes aided by the filmmakers themselves. Episodes will focus on James Cameron and George Lucas, among others. Mary Lisio will exec produce for Scott Free. The show will bow in November.

General manager Debbie Myers told Variety the change will “make the brand match the programming,” with a new CGI logo named “Morph,” which transforms, boils and fizzles in Science’s house ads, replacing the old periodic table-style symbol. “It really represents the flexibility of the brand,” said marketing head Dan Bragg.

The channel aims to shed any schoolbookish overtones in favor of a more engaging identity. Net hits have included reruns of “Firefly” and hip Ricky Gervais/Karl Pilkington starrer “An Idiot Abroad,” necessitating the switch, Myers said. “If we’re not hitting you at home, it becomes a boring class,” she added.

To that end, Science will visit some of the less professional corners of scientific practice as it did with last year’s special “Punkin Chunkin,” a show about the titular Delaware pumpkin-hurling competish and a ratings winner for Science.

Under the new Sci Sports banner, Science will explore amateur robot-fighting in “Killer Robots” on Memorial Day and model rockets in “Large Dangerous Rocket Ships” on Oct. 30.

Net is also prepping a show with “The Sims” and “Spore” vidgame creator Will Wright — Wright’s second after Current’s user-generated drama “Bar Karma.”

And some shows that are already playing are getting a boost: Morgan Freeman’s “Through the Wormhole” will have composer Hans Zimmer on board as music supervisor for all 10 episodes (Zimmer composed the show’s theme song).

Physicist Brian Cox’s “Wonders” will be back for two more seasons — “Wonders of the Solar System” won a Peabody last week, and “Wonders of the Universe” premiered March 6. Science is set for “Wonders of Life” and a fourth, as-yet undetermined series.

The network also plans an expanded digital presence including a “Sci Spy” smartphone app that Myers and Bragg say has the potential to be used by producers to crowdsource research for shows on the network.

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