Upfronts 2012: Syfy lifts lid on biggest slate to date

U.S. net Syfy has unveiled its largest slate of programming to date, with reality series from executive producer Mark Burnett and 495 Productions, and 17 unscripted series in development ranging from haunted real estate to the Indiana Jones of toy collectors.
April 25, 2012

U.S. net Syfy has unveiled its largest slate of programming to date, with reality series from executive producer Mark Burnett and 495 Productions, and 17 unscripted series in development that range from haunted real estate to the Indiana Jones of toy collectors.

Six reality series will launch, including the previously reported School Spirits, which is executive produced by Mark Burnett, Seth Jarrett and Julie Insogna Jarrett (Celebrity Ghost Stories) and now has a June premiere date. The series will tell stories of hauntings that took place in schools across America.

Also airing in the summer is Paranormal Highway, hosted by Jack Osbourne and Dana Workman. The Base Productions series investigates claims of paranormal activity along the country’s back roads, and features eyewitness interviews and evidence collected by state-of-the-art equipment.

From the producers of Jersey Shore, Viral Video Showdown pits top viral video creators against each other to create a video that best captures the assigned theme. Syfy will also launch High Noon Entertainment’s Collection Intervention, following a collectibles expert who helps couples determine what to do with their collections, advising them on what to keep and what to sell.

Mission Control Media, the producers of Syfy’s Face Off, is producing Hot Set, an extreme design challenge where Hollywood production designers compete in a battle to design, build and decorate an original and signature movie set.

Lastly, Ghost Mine is set in the remote woods of Oregon, home to one of the richest gold mines in the U.S., which has been abandoned for the last century. In the 51 Minds reality series, a group of miners will re-open the mine to find their fortune, and along the way, encounter paranormal activity.

Syfy’s development slate includes another series with Burnett, an as-yet-untitled competition show where fans of science fiction and fantasy compete to create the best dishes inspired by the imaginary worlds of the genres’ books and film.

Elsewhere, The Genie looks at an extreme concierge company, Blue Fish, as they rebuild the chocolate river from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and perform other elaborate experiences for their clients. The series is produced by Smart Dog Media.

In each episode of Stranded, from Ping Pong Productions, a family or group of friends moves into an infamously haunted location, and document their experience in total isolation.

Meanwhile, Destination Truth‘s Josh Gates, a familiar Syfy face, is the star of Awesome Foundation, where every week inventors, artists and regular people from all over the U.S. pitch their ideas to the Awesome Foundation, a group “dedicated to turning awesome ideas into awesome reality.” The Foundation members grant their own money to the lucky three people with the best ideas, which leads to a race to complete projects within a given time and budget. The series is produced by Idiot Box Productions.

Zig Zag Productions’ Exit, based on the hit Japanese format, is a game show where two teams of contestants battle to escape three rooms, decked out in booby traps and bottomless pits.

The development slate also includes paranormal series Buyer Beware, from Zodiak USA, which looks at real estate professionals who specialize in matching haunted properties with eager buyers; NorthSouth’s Deadfinder, which follows a groups of mediums who search through cold cases; and Cream Productions’ Ghost Town, USA, following the characters of Mount Holly, New Jersey, a town teeming with reports of paranormal activity.

Syfy has two projects from Jarrett Creative Group, The Wrights, starring a father and son duo who build paranormal contraptions to communicate with the dead; and Toy Traveler, following Shane Turgeon, who travels to remote corners of the world to find the rarest and most valuable toys and collectibles.

495 Production’s Fan Girl/Fan Boy Project aims to celebrate fan girl and fan boy cultures, while Skip Films’ Divas of Dress Up looks at the top women competitors who turn themselves into fictional characters in “cos-play.”

Mission Control Media is behind Chris Cox Project, focusing on a man with mind-manipulating abilities; Karga 7 produces Limitless, a series that recounts stories of people who discovered hidden powers; while Base Productions’ Superhumans uncovers secrets of record-breaking abilities of human power.

Master Control from The Gurin Co. is a competition series pitting user-generated videos against each other in a battle for viewer popularity, and Base Productions’ Stranger Than Fiction is a viral video clip show with comedians competing for laughs.

“Over its 20 year history, Syfy has always pushed the boundaries of our genre and the entertainment experience. This new crop of innovative, thought-provoking, emotionally-charged programming will propel us even farther as we imagine all the greater possibilities ahead for the powerful Syfy brand,” said Mark Stern, president of original content for Syfy and co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.