Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Hump Day Dweebing....a wee bit of TV News

9/11 Reflected in Fall Sci-Fis
June 20, 2005By A.J. Frutkin
Most analysts credit ABC's Lost with spurring next season's flurry of network sci-fi dramas.

But the events of Sept. 11, 2001, also may have impacted the trend.

In ABC's Invasion, a Florida community faces the unsettling aftereffects of a hurricane.

On CBS' Threshold, government officials try to stave off an attack from outer space.

NBC's Fathom finds scientists coming face-to-face with mysterious creatures from the deep.

Far from Steven Spielberg's benign view of aliens in ET: the Extra Terrestrial or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, what these series share is a portrayal of the unknown as menacing.

Such observations may not be that surprising. After all, in an age of global terrorism, suicide bombers and underground cells, the idea of hostile forces infiltrating America's neighborhoods, schools and workplaces is a top-of-mind subject not only for viewers, but for Hollywood creators as well.

"We live in a very unstable time," said Shaun Cassidy, creator of Invasion. "People are afraid because there is no rule book and no assurances." EDITOR'S NOTE; THIS MAY BE, AND IT MIGHT EVEN BE DUE TO 9/11. BUT CASSIDY HAS BEEN PRODUCING WEIRD, DISTURBING STUFF FOR A VERY LONG TIME. (ALL THAT DADOORUNRUNNING FROM HIS EARLY YEARS, NO DOUBT).

Some media buyers are reluctant to directly link 9/11 to next season's sci-fi and mystery shows, noting that broadcasters are more concerned with creating escapist fare than programs steeped in social and political metaphors.

"The media's motivation is to make prime-time hits," said John Rash, Campbell Mithun's chief broadcast negotiator. "But at a time of an undefined end to the war on terrorism, let alone the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these shows may have tapped into the current American psyche."

Cassidy noted his series primarily is a family drama about a blended household and the challenges that arise both from divorce and re-marriage. Although he said he didn't set out to create an allegorical tale about 9/11, "obviously it was in my subconscious."

Brannon Braga, exec producer of Threshold, echoed Cassidy's sentiments, noting that any reference to 9/11 was "not intentional." However, with three TV series all dealing with the unknown, the terrorist attacks "must be in the zeitgeist...There's something in the blood right now," Braga added. "There can be no doubt that, even subconsciously, 9/11 is a thematic undercurrent in our show, for sure."

Intentional or otherwise, the unease portrayed in next season's sci-fi and mystery shows is a sign of the times, agreed several advertisers. "It's no secret that popular culture and entertainment are driven by what is happening nationally and internationally," said Tom Weeks, director of entertainment at Starcom. "I definitely think we're in a culture where the idea of good versus evil has been heightened. In a post-9/11 world, where there are no easy answers, all these shows are reflective of what this country is going through," Weeks added. EDITOR'S NOTE: THANK HEAVENS WE GET THE HIGH-END INTERP FROM A BUNCH OF ADVERTISING PEOPLE. BECAUSE ADBIZ FOLKS....MEDIA BUYERS IN PARTICULAR...ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR DEPTH AND INTELLECTUALISM. (SMIRK).

MINDHUNTERS TV Series in the Works
IM International media has signed "a deal with action TV veteran Jay Firestone, Japanese production house Kadokawa Pictures and German-based genre specialists Action Concept to co-develop and co-finance joint projects."

First up IM is looking to develop a TV series based on their thriller MINDHUNTERS, about a group of FBI profilers-in-training who discover on an exercise mission that there is a killer amongst them.

The feature film starred Eion Bailey, Clifton Collins Jr, Will Kemp, Val Kilmer, Jonny Lee Miller, Kathryn Morris, Christian Slater and LL Cool J. It was directed by Renny Harlin.


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