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October 29, 2009

Syfy picks up 'Being Human'

111832-being_human_341 By Nellie Andreeva

The misfits from the hot British dramedy "Being Human" will face another challenge: being American.

Syfy has handed out a 13-episode order to a U.S. version of the BBC show from RDF Media USA.

"Human" revolves around three twentysomething roommates -- who happen to be a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf -- as they help one another navigate the complexities of living double lives.

The original series, produced by RDF subsidiary Touchpaper TV and executive produced by Rob Pursey, had an initial six-episode run on digital channel BBC Three. It was so successful that the show got a second window on mothership BBC One. It is slated to return early next year for an eight-episode second season.

The deal for a U.S. take on the show at Syfy marks the first scripted series order for the cable network following its rebranding this summer designed to attract broader audience. It also marks the first scripted series order for RDF Media USA.

"Human" appeared on Syfy's radar about two years ago when the network was given the pilot script by the BBC, which was seeking to bring in the U.S. cable network in as co-producer. It was too late in the process, so Syfy brass passed but became instant fans of the material.

"It turned out great as we can now do an American version," Syfy president Dave Howe said. "We've always been keen on vampires and werewolves, and we loved the originality of 'Being Human,' the fact that the fantastical creatures in it are very young, accessible and charming."

Howe stressed that Syfy is not going to "slavishly replicate the British version." Some of network's core audience already might be familiar with the original series, which runs in the U.S. on BBC America.

The search is on for a writer to adapt "Human," with Syfy targeting a launch in summer or fall 2010 and eyeing it as a potential companion piece to breakout hit "Sanctuary," which shares similar subject matter.

The U.S. version of "Human" drew a lot of interest from broadcast and cable networks and several production commitment offers, but Syfy stood out, RDF Media USA CEO Chris Coelen said.

"From the beginning, Syfy was unwavering in its pursuit of the project and had a lot of conviction about doing it,"

The company, which established a toehold in the U.S. on the strength of its unscripted business, has been making a big push in scripted series largely outside the traditional studio system. RDF is the sole producer of "Human" and is also working on several other scripted projects.

"We're getting into the scripted and studio business in a different way; the plan is to do things ourselves," Coelen said.


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