With Richard Branson, Syfy Boosts 'Defiance,' Returning Series 'Alphas,' 'Being Human,' More at Musuem of Natural History Upfront Bash | Adweek
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Syfy Boosts Development Slate

New show 'Defiance' melds with massively multiplayer online game

One of the letters from Syfy's logo glares at ad buyers passing through the Natural History Museum's Hall of Biodiversity Photo: Sam Thielman

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Syfy redecorated large sections of the American Museum of Natural History for its 2012 upfront presentation, where network president Dave Howe led an hour-long tour of the network's new offerings, giving attendees a glimpse of its development slate as well as the NBCUniversal cable channel's new multiplatform strategy.

The crown jewel in this year's lineup is Defiance, a show with a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game attached to it. The game, developed by Trion Worlds (the company behind popular MMO Rift), takes place in the same world as the series, with events on the show affecting its world—and apparently vice versa, although that assertion raises questions about the series' shooting schedule.

Howe called the project "the holy grail of entertainment" on Tuesday evening, touting its unique nature and creative potential.

Syfy's development slate contained other interesting entries, including Rewind, a time-travel series about a group of people trying to travel to the past to prevent a terrorist attack. The presentation for Rewind even included a brief sizzle reel, although the two-hour pilot order was just green-lit in January. The cable network also has a project in the lab based on the Matt Damon movie The Adjustment Bureau, as well as the previously announced Booster Gold, based on the DC Comics character.

Howe also pushed the network's recent audience branding initiative. Syfy watchers are now "Igniters," with the network asserting that a product sold to one of these early adopters is a product also sold to all of his or her friends. The company will be strengthening its mobile presence as well, with a new digital-only show called BlastrTV that it plans to distribute on Hulu, via its website, and on various mobile and tablet devices. The series will focus on personalities in the sci-fi, fantasy and horror worlds.

It was an eventful evening. One woman won an "upper-class" around-the-world plane trip on Virgin Airlines; trendy Irvine, Calif.-based band Young the Giant played a brief set; and a reception was held in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life (you know, the room with the whale), where food was served in as many strange ways as possible. One station featured bites of deconstructed chimichurri steak. Another was simply a wall with sconces holding plates of mustard and cheese, mounted under little chutes that released pretzel balls every few seconds. Outside, letters from the Syfy logo had apparently taken on a life of their own; an upside-down Y, looking sort of like an ostrich with a mustache, eyed party goers as they exited.

You know, the usual.