Baldwin gives Sci Fi a ‘Scare’

Cabler orders up 14 new episodes with thesp as host

Sci Fi Channel has signed Stephen Baldwin to host the third season of “Scare Tactics,” replacing original host Shannen Doherty.

At the same time, cabler’s “Stargate SG-1” blasted off to the highest original series ratings in the channel’s history.

Sci Fi has ordered up 14 new episodes of “Scare Tactics,” now anchored by the youngest Baldwin brother, after original emcee Doherty ankled to pursue other projects.

Exec producer Scott Hallock said the parting was amicable.

“Shannen’s been great for the show, and I’d definitely work with her again,” he said. “But she got the opportunity to develop a sitcom, so she jumped.”

Doherty ankled the skein after completing eight episodes of the second season. Thesp is working on a pair of projects for the Peacock — a starring vehicle and a second series she will exec produce — that are being developed with Gavin Polone’s Pariah Television.

Skein, produced by Hallock and Kevin Healy of Hallock Healy Entertainment (“Spy TV”), is a hidden-camera half-hour that plays frightening pranks on unsuspecting people.

Series premiere delivered 1.5 million total viewers in its April 2003 bow. The second season drew an average aud of 332,000 viewers among the core 18-34 viewers — up 8% from season one.

Hallock said the new season of “Scare” will feature more of its host, with Baldwin eager to involve himself in the show’s many pranks. “The guy is nuts, in a good way,” Hallock said. “He was already a fan of the show and is extra-involved in the new episodes.”

“It’s been interesting coming on board (to an established show) and working with the producers to create a new feel,” Baldwin said. “There’s a more spontaneous, high-level-energy feel to the show now.”

“Scare” is not Baldwin’s first foray into the reality TV realm. Thesp appeared as a contestant on both seasons of “Celebrity Mole” and the celeb edition of “Fear Factor.”

Sci Fi is also in business with his older brother Daniel, who is starring in the hourlong series pilot from Fox TV Studios, “Anonymous Rex”; project is still awaiting word on a series pickup.

Meanwhile, Sci Fi redeemed itself for the disappointing miniseries “5ive Days to Midnight” with Friday’s eighth-season preem of “Stargate SG-1.” Episode scored 3.2 million overall viewers, making it the most-watched seg in the show’s history, as well as the most-watched series episode for the network year-to-date. “Stargate” is the first original skein to chalk up an audience of more than 3 million for an episode.

“The eighth season is doing better than the show has ever done, period,” Sci Fi/USA topper Bonnie Hammer said. “It’s the best of comfort television. It’s not serialized, so audiences enjoy it, knowing if they miss an episode they can still watch. And after all this time, it hasn’t gotten stale — the writers still love the series.”

Bow vaulted Sci Fi to the top ranking among 25- to 54-year-olds (1.7 million) for the night in basic cable. Cabler also ranked second in the 18-49 demo (1.4 million) for the night. “New Order,” the prelude to the series premiere of “Stargate Atlantis,” also performed well, delivering 1.7 viewers 18-49 and 2 million in 25-54.

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