Sci Fi arms Hammer with prez post

Presided over popular 'Farscape, 'Invisible'

NEW YORK — The Sci Fi Channel has elevated Bonnie Hammer from exec VP and G.M. to the new post of president, a reward for driving the network’s ratings by double-digit increases and propelling Sci Fi’s subscriber count from 50 million to 70 million since 1998.

Hammer became exec VP in 1998, presiding over the production and scheduling of three of most successful original programs in the network’s nine-year history: the weekly hourlong series “Farscape” and “The Invisible Man,” and the five-a-week “quasi-reality” half-hour “Crossing Over With John Edward.”

These were series that Sci Fi developed “from scratch,” as Hammer put it. She contrasts these shows with less successful original series such as “The Black Scorpion” and “The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne,” which were pickups of already existing shows that Hammer said were “opportunistic buys,” meaning that they cost Sci Fi far less than if the network had put them together from the first pilot script.

The ratings success of the six-hour “Dune” miniseries has convinced Hammer to push forward with additional highly promotable minis that Sci Fi will market as special events. The network announced two new four-hour projects last week: “Kim Stanley Robinson: Red Mars” and a futuristic adaptation of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”

The network is in development with DreamWorks TV and Steven Spielberg on a 20-hour saga about alien abduction called “Taken.”

Hammer joined Sci Fi’s parent company USA Networks in 1989 as a programming executive.