CBS is doubling down on Steven Spielberg for summer 2014.
The network on Wednesday handed out a straight-to-series order for Extant, a serialized drama from Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS Television Studios for next summer.
Spielberg, Greg Walker and Mickey Fisher, who penned the script, will executive produce alongside Brooklyn Weaver, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. CBS Television Distribution will handle domestic distribution, while CBS Studios International will handle worldwide rights.
Extant is described as a futuristic thriller about a female astronaut trying to reconnect with her family when she returns after a year in outer space. Her experiences lead to events that ultimately change the course of human history.
“Extant is a very original concept with layers of humanity, mystery and surprise that reveal itself throughout the script,” CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said. “Our partnership with Amblin for Under the Dome showed that viewers respond to high-quality event programming in the summer. We look forward to building on that with Extant and offering CBS audiences another high-concept, unique event for summer television.”
The drama reteams CBS with Amblin, who also are behind this summer’s top scripted drama Under the Dome. For its part, CBS has already renewed Dome, from CBSTVS and DreamWorks TV,for a second season after the pricey series proved that there’s a home for high-quality original scripted programming during the typically low-rated summer months. CBS struck an early content licensing deal with Amazon, giving Amazon Prime members unlimited access to the serialized drama four days after the network broadcast, helping offset the costs of the adaptation of Stephen King’s book.
Dome — which was also picked up straight to series — is the key component of CBS’ push toward year-round scripted programming, which also includes the second season of Unforgettable. The Poppy Montgomery drama was resurrected from the dead with an order for an abbreviated summer run. The push at CBS comes a year after the network saw its reality offerings fail to supplement Big Brother last summer.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves — pinch-hitting for Tassler — told reporters that Dome “changed the face of summer television.” “It’s the way television should be. It’s the way television can be,” he said, stressing that the network wouldn’t abandon its 22-episode-season approach.
Extant, with its 13-episode order, marks the latest “limited series” in the works at CBS. It joins Dome as well as upcoming freshman series Hostages and Intelligence, among others, at the network.
Meanwhile, Spielberg will have at least three shows on the air in summer 2014: Extant, Dome‘s second season and the fourth season of TNT’s Falling Skies. ABC will launch the Amblin-produced freshman lottery drama Lucky 7 in the fall.