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'Terra Nova' Still On Terra Firma: Clarifying the State of Spielberg's Sci-Fi Series

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Nov 04, 2010 | 7:14am EDT

ALTLast week, 20th Century Fox Television laid off most of the writing staff of Steven Spielberg's upcoming sci-fi Fox V series Terra NovaThe Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. Insiders insisted, however, that the move doesn't mean Terra Nova is in trouble.

Rather, the network recently decided to unveil the series with a two-hour special in May and then continue in the regular fall 2011 lineup. Because that pushed the bulk of episode production back until next summer, Fox, says the paper, chose to do the cost-conscious thing and let go any writer it did not have an overall deal with. Meanwhile, Deadline today posted its own rundown of what's been going on with the project. 

Brannon Braga remains in charge as showrunner with veteran showrunner Rene Echevarria brought in to oversee the two-hour pilot. Echevarria was already at 20th TV as the writer/showrunner of the series adaptation of James Cameron's True Lies for ABC.

As for the other writers, says Deadline, it is true that they were released on Friday as the show faces a 4-month hiatus for 2 months of filming the pilot and 2 months of post.

For lower-level writers, the move coincided with the end of their term as they had been contracted for a certain number of weeks.

Deadline refutes reports about extensive rewriters on the pilot by multiple big-name writers. In reality, says Deadline, it was one writer, Allan Loeb, who did an unaccredited polish.

Budget has also been an area of frequent speculation because of the show's significant upfront costs. With that factored in, the price tag on the 2-hour pilot is said to be $14 million.

Per Deadline:

“If Terra Nova doesn't go beyond the pilot, the cost would shoot well over $20 million but that is only a hypothetical scenario as the show has a series order from Fox as well as strong international pre-sales, making a pilot-only scenario extremely unlikely. As for Terra Nova's episodic budget, with upfront cost amortization factored in, it is said to be about $4 million an episode not including tax breaks from filming in Australia. That is certainly a high-end drama range (That was the budget for NBC's comic book drama Heroes, for example) but not exorbitant.”

Further, says Deadline, there has been only one major over-budget item so far: a $660,000 charge for delaying the start of production because casting took longer than planned.

Source: Hollywood Wiretap

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