11/07/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin
Word has it that buried somewhere in the Northwest San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, is one of the most intriguing SF/High Adventure TV Shows that, as yet, has not been made.
Cryptically, and simply entitled, "51", the show's backdrop is the equally intriguing and cryptic Area 51 located at Groom Lake Nevada. With all the urban legend and modern mythology surrounding this mysterious locale, writer-creator Michael David Stewart has come up with an ensemble based series that embraces the best elements of Science-Fiction and the type of high adventure found in the great Hollywood films like "King Solomon's Mines", "Journey to the Center of the Earth", and more recently, "Ice Station Zebra".
The script of "51" has garnered the attention of Production Designer Brian Eatwell ("The Man Who Fell To Earth", "The Three and Four Musketeers", "The Onion Field", Nicholas Roeg's "Walkabout", and the 1974 TV classic "The Missiles of October"), his wife, Emmy nominated Costume Designer May Routh ("The Man Who Fell to Earth", "Being There", "My Favorite Year", "Splash", and John Frankenheimer's "George Wallace", "Ronin", "Reindeer Games", and the 2004 TV remake of "Helter Skelter"), and Special Effects Supervisor David Barrington-Holt ( "The Phantom", "George of the Jungle", 1998's "Dr. Dolittle", and "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas"). Each of these skilled and highly respected crafts people were attracted to the project based on the strength of Stewart's script.
Back in April of this year Stewart held a reading of the script in his apartment building's rec room with 20 actors. Many were old friends of Stewart's and among this collection of working actors were four highly recognizable Sci-Fi genre actors reading principle roles: MARSHALL TEAGUE ("Sliders", "Babylon 5", "Stargate Sg-1"), JAY ACOVONE ("Stargate SG-1", "Sliders", "Beauty and the Beast"), STEVEN WILLIAMS ("Stargate SG-1", "Jake 2.0", and most notably "Mr. X" on "The X Files") and "Star Trek's Reg Barclay", DWIGHT SCHULTZ.
Some of the other actors participating in the reading were ANGE BILLMAN, MARY WICKLIFFE, ANTHONY ARMATRADING, NAOMI RYAN, VANESSA VANDER PLUYM, PAUL LOGAN, GREG LITTMAN , TERRY HUNTER, ERIKA ROCHANE, DOUG LAWRENCE, ESTEL WALKER, BO KEISTER, LINDY TEAGUE, RON BAKER, KRISTEN ARIZA, and KAREN FORMAN
Since the table reading, Dwight Schultz has been telling Sci-Fi fans about the project at various conventions he appears at. The reaction? "When's it go on the air?" It seems that Sci-Fi fans are hungry for something new and Schultz; and others; feel that "51" could "fill the void" left by "The X Files".
So what's holding things up? Getting it into the right hands or the right word into the ear of qualified Science Fiction producer.
"We've made some head way," says Stewart; who suffered a heart attack and went through quintuple by-pass surgery last August half way through the process of trying to get the show made.. "We've had interest from a name Science Fiction producer at a major studio and a meeting is pending."
"When I woke up after the surgery I came to the realization that I had unfinished business and I firmly believe it's "51". The support from everyone; from the actors especially, has been unbelievable. Many have said 'Even if I don't end up in this show, I think it should get made", and they've extended themselves towards that end. I personally have never heard of that happening before."
In preparation for the day "51" does get a pick up, Stewart has created a four hour mini series pilot, a detailed Show Bible, a marketing, promotion and production plan, as well as having completed eleven episodes with four more in the works which would cover the first 13 shows. He's already mapped out the entire first season down the two-part cliffhanger season one finale and already has at least eleven ideas for the second season.
"Granted, my ideas may not be in tune with the way a studio or network thinks, but I've said from the get-go that "51" was created for Sci-Fi fans and that's just the way I see it being sold to the public."
So what's next for Stewart and "51"? Hopefully landing good representation and getting the project into the hands of studio or network execs who can make the project a reality.
"All I really want to do is be invited to the conventions," jokes Stewart.
Reporting by Hawley Griffin - posted by jessica Martin.
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