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El Cosmico here, with word from Variety about the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series. We heard rumblings about this for a while, but now Variety has confirmed it! What can I say, read it for yourself!

Thursday February 22 2:28 AM ET

Bryan Singer to steer relaunch of ``Battlestar''

By Michael Fleming

NEW YORK (Variety) - After transforming ``X-Men'' into a hit (headed for a sequel with him at the helm), director Bryan Singer will steer a relaunch of the cult television series ``Battlestar Galactica.''

Singer has made a deal with Studios USA to reinvent the series and executive produce it with Tom DeSanto, and he'll direct the pilot if it doesn't clash with the ``X-Men 2'' shooting schedule.

The studio is finalizing deals with show runners, and will shop to networks shortly.

Hatched in the wake of ``Star Wars,'' the Glen Larson-created ``Battlestar Galactica'' premiered on ABC in 1978 and ran two seasons, starring Lorne Greene as the commander of the title vessel.

Despite its brief run, the series has attracted a cult following.

``The lesson I learned on 'X-Men' is to have a healthy respect for the fan base of sci-fi fantasy franchises, and I'm confident that the 'Galactica' brand is a sleeping giant,'' Singer said. ``It was a show I watched during its initial run, from the pilot to the final episode. The essence and the brand name is quite potent in a climate where there's a great deficit of sci-fi programming.''

The original series was produced by Universal Television and the assets were inherited by Studios USA when Barry Diller took the helm. While USA Television Production Group president David Kissinger got frequent e-mails from fans, he never considered revisiting the turf until Singer's direct approach.

``I never dreamed a filmmaker of Bryan's stature would be enough of a hard-core fan that he saw this as a franchise that could be reinvented,'' Kissinger said. ``In the initial meeting, I was wary that he might be just another feature guy looking to slap his name on a TV project, but it was immediately clear this wasn't so. He's got a whole mythology and arc for the series already worked out.''

At $1 million per episode, the original was the highest budgeted drama of its time. A cutting-edge reinvention will be pricier, but Kissinger was confident the revenue would be there.

``We'll shop it right away with the goal of having it in a prime-time slot on a network, but it's possible that we might be able to do a dual window scenario with the SciFi Channel,'' Kissinger said. ``With Bryan's vision and a brand name which has international appeal, we're optimistic we'll be able to make it on the grand scale he imagines. The visual imagery he's talking about is unprecedented in its effects and scope.''

Singer unexpectedly has time to immerse himself in ``Galactica,'' as the film he planned to direct, ``Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,'' has been pushed back due to fears of a writers-actors strike.

Singer plans to spend the next few months in full sci-fi mode, having just signed his ''X-Men 2'' deal. He hopes to have that Fox film ready for a possible holiday 2002 bow.

Well! That sounds awesome. Two folks who definitely know how to satisfy fans, re-making one of my favourite shows ever. Too cool. So, if you guys could ask questions of these people...what would they be? Either email me, or put it in talkback, and we'll see if we can't get some of your questions answered. Oh, and make them nice.

-El Cosmico

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