Syfy Orders Pilot For ‘The Magicians’: Will It Be the ‘Harry Potter’ for Adults?

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Syfy is moving forward with a pilot for the TV adaptation of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. According to Deadline, the channel announced it greenlit the pilot for the potential one-hour drama on Wednesday with a script written by John McNamara and Sera Gamble, with Michael London and Janice Williams set to produce.

The bestselling fantasy book trilogy, the first of which was published in 2009, has most often been described as an adult-version Harry Potter, involving sex, hard drinking, and demon tattoos. The series is focused on Brooklyn high-schooler Quentin Coldwater and his group of friends as they party and study their way at a prestigious college for magic in upstate New York. After graduation, the friends move to Manhattan, where they discover that the fantasy world they used to read about as children really exists and is more dangerous than they ever imagined.

This is actually the second attempt to bring the story to a small screen. Fox pre-emptively acquired the project in October 2011, with London again on board to produce and X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz to pen the script. That adaptation was never greenlit for a pilot and ended up not moving forward. At the time, Grossman took to his blog to express his disappointment at the failed project, but explained his plans to move forward with the possibility of an adaptation, either with a feature film or with another series on a cable network. Syfy first announced its involvement in reviving the project in May.

Once the channel inherited the script, London brought on McNamara and Gamble to further develop the project. Deadline reports the story starts earlier in the book series in this take than that of the initial Fox version.

The Magicians, a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, has been published in twenty-two countries. The Magicians sequel, The Magician King, was published in 2011. The Magician’s Land, the last book in the trilogy, is due for release on August 5, giving viewers a little time to catch up if they haven’t read the first two novels yet.

Grossman teased a small portion of the beginning of the novel with a charming book trailer. The clip features fans and literary celebrities, like Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, Terry Brook, Peter Straub, and Grossman himself, reading the first few paragraphs of The Magician’s Land. Grossman asked fans to participate in the trailer back in April by sending in creative recordings of themselves reading individual sentences from the selected passage. Nine of them made the cut alongside the well-known authors.

Syfy’s support for the project seems to be part of the channel’s efforts to bulk up on its original content. Ascension, its forthcoming six-hour limited series set in space and produced by Phillip Levens (Smallville), will hit the small screen in November. 12 Monkeys, a drama series based on the 1995 film, is slated for release in 2015 and three comic book adaptations, Letter 44, Pax Romana, and Frank Miller’s Ronin, are also in the works.

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