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IDT ‘Masters’ of sci-fi series

Company will provide all financing on hourlong skein

Even before its “Masters of Horror” anthology makes its fall bow, IDT Entertainment is starting work on its next anthology series, “Masters of Sci-Fi,” in hopes of turning the “Masters” brand into an ongoing franchise.

Company will provide all financing on the hourlong series and will again team with Industry Entertainment for production.

“We were well into production on ‘Masters of Horror’ before we agreed to do a deal with Showtime,” said IDT Entertainment chief operating officer John W. Hyde. “Because of the parent company (IDT Corp.) having a billion dollars in cash and no debt, we have the capability to make these shows regardless of when we make the deal.”

Company is mulling at least two more “Masters” series in other genres.

Shooting on the first of the initial 13 “Sci-Fi” episodes will start in March in Vancouver. Company’s subsidiaries will handle worldwide sales and homevideo distribution.

Where “Masters of Horror” assembled 13 noted horror directors to helm one-hour terror tales, the “Masters” in the new hourlong series will be writers. Skein will feature adaptations of stories by such writers as H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Stanislav Lem.

Final negotiations are under way for Michael Tolkin (“The Player”) to adapt and direct Heinlein’s “Jerry Was a Man.” Negotiations with other writers are ongoing.

Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison will adapt their own short stories for the series.

Industry Entertainment’s Brad Mendelsohn and Keith Addis are exec producers of the new series and will choose a showrunner. Industry’s Andrew Deane will be co-exec producer.

Though f/x costs often drive sci-fi films’ budgets higher than those of horror films, Hyde said the aim is to keep expenses down by assigning visual effects to subsidiaries Forum Visual Effects and DKP, who’ll do the work at cost.

Hyde also believes this skein has a larger potential aud than the horror anthology. “With sci-fi you have a much broader age group,” he said. “Because of the quality of the writers and the scripts, we believe that we’ll be able to tap into that broad audience.”

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