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SYFY taps SNL team for original late-night animated series, prepping bigger animated push

Contributed by
Nov 15, 2018

SYFY is getting into the late-night and animated series game — all with one new show. The network (corporate owner of SYFY WIRE) has picked up the original animated seires Alien News Desk, a new weekly half-hour topical animated series set in an extraterrestrial newsroom. The show will feature the voices of Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte and current SNL cast member Heidi Gardner.

Slated to air at 11 p.m. (per Deadline), Alien News Desk will feature alien news anchor Drexx Drudlarr (Forte) and alien co-anchor Tuva Van Void (Gardner) covering up-to-the-minute news and commentary about the universe’s most baffling species – the humans from Planet Earth. So, kind of like a half-hour version of Saturday Night Live’s "Weekend Update," but with aliens instead of Colin Jost and Michael Che. And animated. Considering "Weekend Update’s" head writer Dennis McNicholas will serve as showrunner, this makes a lot of sense.

Alien News Desk has a lot of folks from SNL putting it together. In addition to the cast and showrunner, SNL's creator Lorne Michaels and producer Erik Kenward will executive produce.

The 12-episode series order marks SYFY’s foray into original animation and late-night programming. Chris McCumber, President, Entertainment Networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a statement that the “expansion into original animation and late-night marks the next step in the evolution of SYFY, and builds on the successes we’ve had bringing new, younger viewers to the network.” 

McCumber added: “Tackling news, politics and entertainment from the perspective of alien newscasters completely puzzled by our human ways, Alien News Desk is a fun, irreverent way to put a uniquely ‘SYFY’ spin on the late-night current affairs genre.”

Alien News Desk will debut on SYFY in early 2019.

McCumber told Deadline the network sees Alien News Desk as a gateway into developing more original aniamted fare, and even name-dropped Rick and Morty as an example of the type of shows the network would like to develop. He also noted the network will use its burgeoning animation block to experiment and pilot indie animation, be it five-minute shorts to full series.

“If you look at the top 30 shows every day in cable, you see a lot of unscripted and a lot of animation. It’s mostly, at this point, one network and we think there’s an opportunity there. Why should Adult Swim have all the fun?,” McCumber told Deadline. ” My favorite show on TV right now is Rick and Morty. I think it’s brilliant, I think the writing is amazing. It’s a show that when I watch it, I’m exceedingly jealous of, I will say that. I think that to me it is the high bar as far as the type of animation that SYFY would want to do.”

The animated push comes after SYFY acquired the re-run rights to Futurama last year, which apparently showed the decision-makers there's an audience there for animated genre fare.

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