Sci Fi's "Sanctuary" a true Web-to-TV pioneer

Tue Nov 18, 2008 3:08am EST
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By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A milestone was reached last week in the crossover from Internet to TV when Sci Fi Channel gave an early second-season pickup to "Sanctuary," making it the first TV show based on an online series to accomplish the feat.

With YouTube making it easy for anyone with a video camera to get noticed, the Web was anointed as the perfect breeding ground for TV talent. But crossing that talent (and their product) over to TV has proved tricky.

There has been a slew of deals, including CBS lining up "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star to adapt the hit online series "We Need Girlfriends" as a TV series, and NBC pacting with viral video stars Luke Barats and Joe Bereta. But not much has come of any of them.

A lot has been made of the quick demise of "quarterlife," whose made-for-Web episodes were stitched together into hourlong TV episodes that briefly aired on NBC.

Meanwhile, ABC is redeveloping the online series "In the Motherhood" for its migration to TV, bringing in sister studio ABC Studios and a team of experienced TV writer-producers to adapt it and tapping a mostly new cast.

"Sanctuary" -- made by all-Canadian creators, cast and crew and backed by a private Canadian investor -- took a middle road.

Similarly to "quarterlife," which originated with a TV pilot for ABC four years ago, "Sanctuary" -- the first TV series to be shot almost entirely on virtual sets in front of greenscreens -- stems from a spec script by "Stargate" scribe Damian Kindler written in 2000.

In 2006, the announcement of Apple TV, Apple's device for playing computer content on HDTVs, prompted Kindler and his "Stargate" cohorts -- director Martin Wood and star Amanda Tapping -- to do "Sanctuary" as the first HD online series that people could watch on their widescreen TVs.   Continued...