Will Firefly Season Two Fly?
A spokesman for Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly and its spinoff movie, Serenity, told SCI FI Wire that Whedon hasn't heard of Ace Underhill, an entrepreneur who said he is trying to acquire the rights to the SF TV franchise for purposes of mounting a second season to be distributed in alternative media. "Joss doesn't really know anything about that guy, and I don't really think he has a comment," Whedon's spokesman said in response to questions about Underhill's efforts.
For his part, Underhill told SCI FI Wire that he has contacted Whedon's representatives about starting up a new season of Firefly, which the Fox broadcast network canceled after a single season in 2003, but hadn't spoken with Whedon directly. Whedon previously told USA Today that he still hopes to tell more stories set in Serenity's futuristic universe, though Firefly as it was is dead. He later told Empire Online that he remains open to doing another TV series.
In response, Underhill said in an interview: "If he contacts me and says, 'Hey, we're not interested in Firefly anymore' or 'I'm not interested in Firefly anymore,' then I will abandon the project, and essentially it's over at that point. I'm not looking to create a cheap knockoff of the series without Joss' input. So that's not going to happen. ... If he's not going to be involved, then there is no project. There's no point."
Underhill said that he wants to acquire the rights to produce a second season of Firefly and has gone on the Web to solicit fans' support, though not their money. "We're looking at actually doing a direct pay-per- ... view model for this series, where the consumer could choose, if they wanted to, [to] view it on their computer, on their iPod, on direct-to-DVD sent to their house or on demand through their cable or satellite operator," Underhill said in a telephone interview. "That would be the first run of the series. And then the second run, obviously, you would go to the off-net cable channels. ... We're looking at giving choices to the audience."
Underhill said that he is also speaking with Jamie McCabe, senior vice president of worldwide pay-per-view and video-on-demand services for 20th Century Fox Television, which holds the TV rights to Firefly. SCI FI Wire calls to McCabe's office and Fox public relations representatives were not returned by press time.
Underhill added that he has contacted members of the Firefly/Serenity cast and had received a few rate quotes from agents, but he declined to say who. He acknowledged that he had not yet heard from Firefly/Serenity star Nathan Fillion.
Underhill said that he works with Brilliant Screen Entertainment, an Arizona-based company that, according to its Web site, provides TV and film production services, studio recording and DVD and CD project design. Underhill also said that he works with Cine Support International, which provides logistics and planning for film and television productions, and is on the film advisory board for the government of Costa Rica.
Firefly/Serenity fans, who call themselves Browncoats, are suspicious of Underhill's motives and methods, and the entrepreneur has gone on a Browncoat fan forum to answer questions.
Underhill admitted that his effort is a long shot: He even revealed that a bookmaker had contacted him to gauge the odds of his success for purposes of wagering. (He had no idea.) "Anything can be a long shot, and projects can be shut down at any time," he said. "But I'm hopeful and I'm keeping on it, and I'll put my perseverance on it and try to stay with it for the long haul. I understand it's not an overnight process, and I don't expect it to be, and I'm prepared for the long haul. ... At this point, I would say it's a long shot, but the chance exists."