This season has certainly been the season for change. That is if you’re a showrunner.
On both network and cable channels, showrunners have been changed out. Some of them — like David Goyer taking over “FlashForward” was planned. Others, like Scott Peters on “V”? Not so much.
But the “Battlestar Galactica” spinoff “Caprica” change is a little bit unique, at least according to Mark Stern, Syfy’s head of original programming.
The big news has been the installation of new leadership for the show that has yet to make its premiere on the channel. Jane Espenson, best known for her writing and producing work on shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse” and even “Battlestar Galactica,” was hailed as finally getting her due in getting to take on the very complex project that is “Caprica.” A primetime soap with science-fiction overtones, this was something totally new for Syfy, which had toed the line on dramas like this in the past, but never took this leap.
But this week’s announcement that Espenson was being replaced at the top spot on the show by new executive producer Kevin Murphy from “Desperate Housewives” fame certainly got some fans of the franchise worried, while others simply scratched their heads.
“This is about adding strength to strength,” Stern told Airlock Alpha after the Espenson/Murphy news broke today. “Kevin’s not replacing Jane. He is joining her,” Ronald D. Moore and David Eick as executive producers for the half of the season. “Jane is still very much involved in the process.”
In fact, Stern said, it was Espenson’s idea to move Murphy up in the first place.
“Kevin is taking the lead on breaking stories so that Jane can spend more time writing,” Stern said.
Espenson did chime in briefly on Twitter after the story really began to make its rounds today.
“Wrote loads of ‘Caprica’ material this weekend,” she said. “Love having a show about place with thriving pop culture. We get to write the pop culture!”
Espenson added later on: “Kevin running room right now so I can dive into more writing (i.e., the fun stuff). Couldn’t keep my hands out of it. Love ‘Caprica!'”
She also confirmed that with io9 today.
“I missed the writing more than I expected, and this was my decision to concentrate on that as we put together the big end of Season 1,” Espenson told the site. “Kevin is extremely smart and talented, and brings fresh eyes and fresh energy to the project. We’re so lucky to have him.”
But fans are hoping these changes are all what Syfy is telling them. It’s no secret that “Caprica” had to halt production at the mid-season break. Typically, such shutdowns almost always are followed with changes in writers or producers. However, sources have told Airlock Alpha that “Caprica” wasn’t getting a traditional break at mid-season because filming had to be completed before the Winter Olympics came to Vancouver, where the show is filmed.
However, now that fans have learned there was a change at the top, and it happened around mid-season, there remains some question on what exactly led to the production stop, and if there were other circumstances behind the stoppage.
The good news is that production has resumed on “Caprica,” and Syfy is set to premiere this highly talked-about series Jan. 22.