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Big Changes At Syfy: Mark Stern Out

His work put cable channel on the map

Mark Stern, the man primarily responsible for bringing fandom shows like “Battlestar Galactica,” “Defiance” and “Warehouse 13,” is leaving his role as head of original programming at the cable channel to become a producer for one of its new series.

Although the decision to move Stern is a bit of a surprise, the cable division of NBC Universal has been in a bit of a turmoil in recent months as new owner Comcast has made several major executive managerial changes. Syfy, however, seemed to be immune to all of that, staying out of the fray.

Until this week.

Stern will be replaced by Bill McGoldrick, who up until now, was doing the same job for sister cable channel USA Network. He was replaced there by Jackie de Crinis.

At USA, McGoldrick had his own success record, including shows like “Suits” and “Graceland.” Before splitting some time with Spike Television — where he worked on “Blade” — McGoldrick was also involved in some of USA’s golden days original programming that included shows like “The 4400” and “Psych.”

Stern had a rather tumultuous tenure on Syfy, at least when it came to fandom. While he took over a job during a time when Syfy — then known as the SciFi Channel — wasn’t known for any original content, he did become associated with the cable channel abruptly canceling shows (even if it wasn’t fully his decision).

Stern got early jeers in 2003 when the plug was pulled on “Farscape” in the middle of a two-year renewal. Other shows seemed to go before they got off the ground, or even in their prime, including “Eureka,” “Sanctuary,” the “Battlestar Galactica” spinoff “Caprica,” and “Stargate: Universe.” Stern also got both praise and complaints about the high-volume of non-scripted shows on the channel, considered good revenue sources, especially with professional wrestling.

Syfy also had a tendency during Stern’s tenure to announce projects so early in development that most of them were never realized. This was a bit unique among cable channels since many would not reveal that much of its development plate primarily because many of them would never be produced. It’s not clear whether that will continue under McGoldrick.

“Bill comes to Syfy at the perfect time as we refocus our efforts to deliver even more quality, stand-out event programming,” said Syfy President Dave Howe, in a statement. “I’d also like to thank Mark for his years of passion, drive and dedication. He’s made incredible contributions to the success of the network, and I’m delighted that we will continue to benefit from his extraordinary talent.”

Syfy did not say which series Stern was producing, and he did not respond to a request from Airlock Alpha. However, it is believed he could be attached to Ronald D. Moore’s new project, “Helix,” which debuts in 2014.

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