Posted: 08 Apr 2013 08:51 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Science-fiction drama Defiance wants to go where no television series has gone before, weaving a show with an online video game to achieve the elusive goal of parlaying success on one entertainment platform to another.
The new series, which premieres on U.S. cable channel Syfy on 15 April, tells the story of frontier town Defiance, formerly St. Louis, in the near future following a 30-year war between humans and seven alien races.
Syfy last week released a multi-player, plot-based video game, developed with Trion Worlds, that lets users build their own personas and explore the landscape of a reshaped Earth in the San Francisco area. The game is made for Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox360 and PC.
Spinning a film or TV series into a video game, or vice versa, is nothing new. But producers say Defiance is the first to weave both game and show together at the same time. The video game alone took some five years to create.
Known in the entertainment industry as the "second screen," the concept lets viewers engage with a show on a second platform on which networks pin hopes for additional advertising sales and cementing a dedicated fan base.
"What's unusual about what we're doing ... is we're building the second-screen concept into the actual DNA of the show-game combo," Defiance executive producer Kevin Murphy told Reuters.
"We're working to make a terrific serialized drama that stands on its own, but we understand that what has people watching us is the fact that this cross-platform promotional is something very, very desirable."
Defiance will be a guinea pig for the viability of merging media like video games with TV shows.
"Nobody has done this before, that's the scary part," he said. "The wonderful part is that there's nobody to say, 'No, no, no, that's not the way it's done.
"It's something (Syfy President) Dave Howe always refers to as the holy grail of entertainment," he added.
Syfy spent about US$100 million to develop the game and show, and the network expects about 20 percent of viewers and players to cross over between the two platforms.
"We're very cautiously optimistic," Howe said, adding that it will still take the standard four or five weeks to know if Defiance will be renewed for a second season.
The Defiance cast is led by ex-Marine and vagabond Nolan, played by Liz & Dick star Grant Bowler, and his adopted alien daughter Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas).
The two finally become tied down helping Defiance Mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) defend the town from invasion.
Murphy, whose past credits include writer and producer on TV drama Desperate Housewives, said there are plans for several crossovers between the series and game, including adapting user-created personas from the game into subsequent seasons of the television show.
Murphy said he wanted to depart from the recent popular television series of dark, dystopian sci-fi, such as AMC's Walking Dead and Syfy's Battlestar Galactica.
"I think this is sort of a tip of the hat more to the old-school science-fiction like Star Trek and Star Wars, which were very hopeful, optimistic worlds," Murphy said.
The show often reflects American challenges of an ethnically diverse and often divided society.
In the pilot, polyglot alliances are tricky as humans and some races of aliens must reluctantly brush aside differences to protect the town from automatons known as the Volge.
"On our show, the aliens are not invading us," Murphy said. "The aliens are part of the melting pot .... They each have their own sort of social mores that they left behind and have been challenged because they've come to a new world."
Posted: 08 Apr 2013 06:52 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES - US actress Annette Funicello, who first gained fame as a "Mickey Mouse Club" member and later starred in 1960s "Beach Party" films, died Monday aged 70, entertainment giant Disney announced.
Funicello died of complications from multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years and whose sufferers she championed through charity work in later life.
She was one of the original "Mousketeers" on America's "Mickey Mouse Club" variety television show in the 1950s, before growing into a star of the teen "Beach Party" movies in the 1960s.
Cast alongside teen idol Frankie Avalon, the raven-haired actress starred in "Beach Party" (1963), "Muscle Beach Party" (1964), "Bikini Beach" (1964), "Beach Blanket Bingo" (1965), and "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (1965).
"Everyone who knew Annette loved and respected her. She was one of the loveliest people I've ever known, and was always so kind to everyone," said Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney.
"She was also the consummate professional, and had such great loyalty to my father," she added.
Funicello was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, and went public with the illness in 1992, establishing The Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases.
Despite her health challenges she founded a business selling collectible teddy bears and launched her own perfume line, before withdrawing from public appearances in the late 1990s.
Walt Disney Company chairman Bob Iger said: "Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend.
"She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney's brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent." - AFP
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