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So, yes, in addition to the scheduled general meet and greets, I’ll be teaming up with my friend (and former fellow Dark Matter Executive Producer) Vanessa Piazza to pitch Masked while in L.A.  Editor Lou Anders assembled a diverse selection of tales that focus as much on the individuals behind the masks as they do on the superheroics.  The stories are grounded in character, something I’ve always been a firm believer in, from Stargate straight through to Dark Matter.  I envision the series as an anthology in the vein of Black Mirror except that, instead of studying the influence of technology, the focus will be on the social, political and personal effects of possessing extra-normal abilities – the advantages, the drawbacks, the costs.  Two great examples from established comic lore are DC’s Batman and Marvel’s Spiderman.  Batman – the world’s greatest detective, the dark knight, a masked vigilante who protects the streets of Gotham.  And, yet he is, at heart, an orphan, so scarred by the murder of his parents that tragedy fuels his relentless quest for justice.  Spiderman – the web-slinging, wise-cracking defender of New York is, in contrast, a meek, mild-mannered high school student similarly driven by tragedy to bear the weight of responsibility power and fate have thrust upon him.  Batman and Spiderman, Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, have always been, for me, the pinnacle of engaging, richly textured characters – at once relatable yet delightfully complex.  And that’s what we’re looking to bring through a collection of original superhero-themed episodes scripted by some of comics and genredom’s heaviest hitters.  Tonally, thematically, I want Masked to offer viewers a show that engages and entertains, but provokes as well.

So who is your favorite superhero/alter ego?  And why?

A couple of years ago, Vanessa was featured in a Hottest Canadian Film and TV Talent You’ve Never Heard Of – But Will list.  There’s a great write up on Vanessa (click the link), and an equally great artist’s rendition accompanying the piece –

Hey, you have less than a month left to get your letters in for a chance to win a piece of Dark Matter…well, a piece of Dark Matter.

Details here: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/september-29-2017-fandom-start-your-blickensderfers/

Some of the items up for grabs:

Android chip and Victor upgrades.

FIVE’s sketches.

FOUR’s imperial ring.

FIVE’s goggles.

Back in 2009, I was contacted by editor Lou Anders about contributing a story to his forthcoming anthology of superhero fiction.  The collection, he explained, would feature original works from established comic book and SF writers, focusing on grounded, character-driven narratives in the vein of The Dark Knight.  My first reaction was “I don’t know…” for the simple reason that I honestly didn’t think I could pull it off.  I have nothing but respect for authors of prose fiction.  What they do is really, really, REALLY hard.  Scriptwriting, with apologies to screenwriters everywhere, though admittedly challenging, is not even on the same level.  The time and effort required to compose a short story, much less a novel…  Lou, sensing my reticence (I believe I actually wrote “I don’t know…” in my return email to him) suggested he’d leave me time to think about it.  If I ended up writing the short story, he’d include it in the anthology.  If, I didn’t, well then that would be fine too.

So I thought about it.  And came up with a story.  And wrote it.  And rewrote.  And rewrote it countless times until the deadline loomed and I delivered it to Lou.  In the end, it was more of a novelette than a short story.  It took me nine months to write.  In comparison, it takes me about two weeks to write a script.

The critics were kind and, in the end, I was happy with the way my story, “Downfall”, turned out.  On the other hand, I was amazed by the quality of the stories that made up the rest of the collection.  Gail Simone, Bill Willingham, Daryl Gregory, Paul Cornell, and many others delivered some truly memorable tales.

Shortly after the book came out, io9’s Charlie Jane Anders wrote the following article:

This book could teach Hollywood to do superheroes right

Well, seven years later, it looks like it’s going to happen.

Dark Matter EP Producer Vanessa Piazza Sets Multi-Year Producing Partnership With eOne

“Piazza is also developing “Masked,” based on the original super-hero fiction anthology edited by Lou Anders, who will also be involved in the series adaptation. Notable comic and graphic novel writers, including Lilah Sturges, Paul Cornell, and Gail Simone whose short stories appear in the book, will contribute to the anthology series, working with Piazza and executive producer and showrunner Joseph Mallozzi.”

I’m excited to be a part of this for a number of reasons.  First and foremost is the source material, a standout selection of stories that will form the basis of a spectacular superhero-themed anthology series.  Second, is the calibre of the authors I’ll be collaborating with on this one.  Third, is the opportunity I’ll have to re-team with the dynamic and talented Vanessa Piazza.  Fourth is the opportunity I’ll have to work with my old friend, editor and author extraordinaire Lou Anders who will also be involved in the show’s development and production.  To paraphrase Dark Matter’s Wexler: “That’s a win-win-win…win.”

If you’re not familiar Masked, you can just click the icon in the right sidebar.  Or pick yourself up a digital version online or hard copy at your local bookstore.

 

Yes, from today until November 17ish, we’re celebrating my birthday – as is the custom.  I kicked things off this morning by hopping on twitter and personally thanking everyone who sent me birthday wishes.  About thirty minutes in, Akemi suggested I might be better off simply liking everyone’s efforts otherwise I’d be spending the better part of my birthday online.  So, I’ve tried my best to acknowledge everyone but, just in case, thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday here, on twitter, Facebook, reddit, and China’s weibo.

Hey, it feels like just yesterday I was talking about the various projects I’m considering and now I’ve heard word that there will be an announcement on one of those projects tomorrow.  And it’s one that might be familiar to longtime followers of this blog (and before I set off an internet frenzy, no it isn’t Stargate or Dark Matter-related).  Anyway, it’s in the early stages, but I’m very excited about it – partly because of the source material, and partly because it will see me working again with some old friends.

I’m off to read more Dark Matter fan letters.  I leave you with a few more items up for grabs…

After Dark mugs.

Dark Matter backpacks.

Posters!

Blurays!

And hoodies!

 

A little R&R – specifically “Rest” and “Reading”.  Last night, I finished Dennis Lehane’s “Gone, Baby Gone”, staying up until a little past one a.m. to blaze through the book’s final 250 pages.  A terrific read.  One of my favorites of 2017 which, at 170 titles and counting, is turning into a banner reading year for me.

And I’m putting all of this reading to good use by partnering with some production companies in a bid to secure the film & television rights to a few of the books I’ve enjoyed.  We’re in the early stages now, but we’re circling a good dozen titles that I believe have great series/miniseries potential.

In addition, I’m in early discussions to help develop another sci-fi series.  Ideally, I’d prefer to pitch and set up my original ideas, but this one, despite not being my own, is a great premise with the potential for some standout character dynamics – something I value above all else.  Just as importantly, I really like the series creator and the other people involved in this project, so I’m making this one a priority.

Also at the top of the list is a project that will see me reunite with an old friend.  This one’s in early development but you’ll be hearing about it in the coming days when the press release comes out.

I’ve already had preliminary discussions about a couple of intriguing comic book properties and, in two weeks, I’ll be in L.A. meeting and greeting.  Hopefully, these meetings will be the first step in going out with my own pilots (I’m sitting on five in all).

Although it sounds like a lot, the reality is, in this business, you need to have a good dozen things on the go in the hopes that one, maybe, will hit.  Such was the case a little over three years ago when, following numerous starts and stops and seeming dead-ends, it appeared one of my pilots was dead while the other was as good as green lit.  Then, in the course of 24 hours, everything changed and that as-good-as-green-lit pilot was dead while that dead pilot…well, that dead pilot was Dark Matter.  So, you never know…

 

 

We are living in the Golden Age of sci-fi viewing.  Thanks to the rise of deep-pocketed streaming platforms, the expansion of superhero-themed properties to the “small screen”, and a long overdue recognition of the value of genre programming, fandom today has more choices than ever when it comes to feeding their sci-fi fix.

But with the power of choice comes great responsibility.   Where do you commit your time?  And potential subscription fees?  Who has the most to offer?

Well, after amassing a sizable show list, from Agents of SHIELD to Westworld, I put each broadcaster to the test, evaluating them across a range of criteria: quality, quantity, variety, and status of their sci-fi slate, support for their sci-fi programming relative to their other offerings, fan outreach, recognition, and respect.  And, when all was said and done, these were my Top 10 Sci-Fi Broadcast/Streaming Homes:

#10. FREEFORM

A lot of love for genre programming in general here, but there’s a definite commitment to sci-fi with shows like Stitchers and Beyond. Ultimately, Freeform lands the tenth slot on the strength of its upcoming series: Cloak & Dagger, New Warriors (Squirrel Girl!), and Misfits remake.

#9. CRACKLE

Coming in at number nine is this feisty digital streaming service looking to make a splash in 2018 with not one, but two intriguing offerings.  First, there’s The Tribe, a post-apocalyptic series that I’ve heard described as The 100 meets The Walking Dead.  And then there’s The Row which focuses on a group of death row inmates who avoid execution by “volunteering” for a deadly space mission.  Killer premise.

#8. BBC AMERICA

Being Human, Class, Torchwood, Orphan Black and, of course, the grandaddy of science fiction television, Dr. Who – BBC America has a solid track record in this arena.  Looking forward to what they have in store…

#7. ABC

They’ve got Agents of SHIELD presently airing its fourth season (with the incredible Ming-Na Wen), Marvel’s Inhumans,  Somewhere Between that focuses on a mother’s attempts to avert the fated murder of her young daughter, and the upcoming The Crossing which sees America becoming home to an influx of refugees…from 250 years in the future.

#6. AMC

Like superheroes, I put zombies in the sci-fi camp if their origins are based in science (fiction) rather than the supernatural, and that’s the case for two of AMC’s entries here: The Walking Dead and its offshoot Fear the Walking Dead.  The high octane Into the Badlands gets the nod as well, as does the android-centric Humans.

#5. THE CW

The 100, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, the forthcoming Black Lightning series.  Need I go on?

#4. FOX

FOX comes in at #4 on the strength its commitment to science fiction, past (Firefly, Fringe, The X-Files, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sliders, The X-Files) and present (The X-Files, The Gifted, The Last Man on Earth, The Gifted, The Orville).

#3. HULU

In addition to going all in on Stephen King’s time-hopping 11.22.63, Hulu aims to follow up on its brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale with a bevy of sci-fi offerings including Future Man, Dimension 404, Freakish, and Runaways.

#2. AMAZON

Amazon’s streaming service vaults into the #2 spot thanks to a burgeoning sci-fi slate that includes The Man in the High Castle, the recently launched Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and a trio of intriguing upcoming adaptations: Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. There’s also Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens that is really more fantasy than science fiction, but I mention it for its post-apocalyptic setting.

#1. NETFLIX

And all alone at #1 is the current king of sci-fi programming.  Let’s break it down: Black Mirror, Dark Matter, Sense 8, The OA, Stranger Things, Travelers, 3%, Daredevil, The Defenders, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Punisher.  Upcoming: Lost in Space, The Umbrella Academy, Altered Carbon.  And I’m sure there’s much, much more.

Honorable Mentions: The CBS All Access and Stargate Command streaming platforms offer up a plethora of classic sci-fi (Every Star Trek series and every Stargate series respectively), in addition to a couple of exclusives (Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Stargate: Origins on Stargate Command). HBO doesn’t do a lot of sci-fi, but when they do, they invest in some impressive production values.  Finally, Canada’s Space Channel is home to great content including the aforementioned Star Trek: Discovery, The Expanse, and Killjoys among others but it didn’t make the list because, sadly, if you’re not in Canada you’re out of luck.

So, what do you all think?  What are your go-to sci-fi homes?  What are you watching and what are you looking forward to watching?

 

So, yesterday I gave a shout-out to the gang at MGM who reached out to me in an effort to save Dark Matter.

Today, another shout-out.  This one for a former syfy executive, Chris Regina, who was the channel’s point man on the series for Dark Matter’s three year run.  He was a tireless promoter of our little show – reading every script, watching every episode, always giving us meaningful input and, more importantly, championing Dark Matter when others may have overlooked it.  We – the cast, the crew, and the fans – lost a passionate, and crucial ally when Chris left syfy in late June.

Chris Regina on set with Executive Producer Jay Firestone

A big thank you to Chris for three amazing years – and best of luck on his exciting new position…which I hope to hear more about when I visit L.A. at the end of the month.

Well, I spent the better part of an afternoon reading about a hundred letters from Dark Matter fans.  All I can say is Wow.  A lot of beautifully written, heartfelt expressions of gratitude for a show that obviously meant a lot to so many of you. It may have looked like I was choking up, but I can assure you that was just the fiery residue of the scorpion chilis I must have got in my eyes.

Anyway, here are a few of the outfits we’ll be sending out to some lucky letter-writing fans…

And more!

In truth, pretty damn close.

So often, you’ll hear stories long after the fact.  Like how Apple almost brought Stargate: SG-1 back for an iTunes exclusive 11th and final season.  Or how Canada’s Space Channel attempted to save Stargate: Universe.  But in this case, the events are fairly recent  – a last ditch effort to save Dark Matter spearheaded by some old friends.  An effort that, had it been successful, would have seen characters from the world of Stargate crossover into the Dark Matter universe.   Or, technically and creatively, vice-versa.  I kid you not.

Not long after word broke of the syfy cancellation, we had several interested parties reach out to us.  One of the most intriguing of them was was MGM, my former home for 12 glorious years while I was working on the Stargate franchise.   They loved the show.  They were aware of the fanbase.  And they recognized a great opportunity.

Over the course of a week, with the window of opportunity to save the show growing narrower, I had several long and involved conversations with Simon Graty (EVP & GM Domestic Networks at MGM Studios), Kieran Dickson (Editorial Director at MGM), and Jenny Stiven (Consultant, Digital/Social Strategy & Content, Influencer Marketing).  The plan, if successful, would have seen Dark Matter’s fourth season premiere on MGM’s streaming platform, Stargate Command, alongside the upcoming Stargate: Origins series.  Perhaps equally intriguing was the prospect of doing some sort of Dark Matter/Stargate crossover that would rev up the fanbase in advance of further original Stargate programming down the road.

The two things working against us were time and existing contracts, the latter which proved our undoing.  BUT we came so close –

To a fourth season of Dark Matter.

To a sci-fi crossover for the ages.

Ultimately, we weren’t successful, but I want to thank MGM, and especially Simon, Jenny, and Kieran, for reaching out and trying to make it happen.

Today, Ivon and I caught up with a couple of the individuals who orchestrated that attempted 11th hour save (Jenny and Kieran), as we sat down with them, and Gateworld’s David Reed, for late lunch and three hours of reminiscing about the old Stargate  days.

Watch for our interview, and many more, coming to Stargate Command.

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