Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Lifestyles

July 6, 2014

‘A real shot’

Ironton native's TV series will debut this week

ASHLAND — An Ironton native is experiencing the career opportunity of a lifetime.

Movie maker Mickey Fisher has created and written the serialized sci-fi drama “Extant,” which is being produced by Steven Spielberg and will debut Wednesday on CBS. The network ordered 13 episodes to run this summer.

“(The straight-to-series order) is an exciting thing because you get a real shot,” Fisher said. “In the feature world, you’ll work on something for years to get it off the ground. Even if you’re Martin Scorsese, you can develop things for 20 years and it won’t see the light day. This is going straight to television.”

The program stars Academy Award winner Halle Berry, who plays an astronaut who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.

The show also stars Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, who appeared in “The Wolverine.” Sanada plays a wealthy technological genius who put his wealth to work privatizing the world’s space programs into a single entity.

Fisher, a 1991 Ironton High School graduate and 1995 University of Cincinnati graduate, entered the script for “Extant” in a writer’s competition, where it drew a great deal of attention. Soon after, he got himself a manager and the script drew the attention of Spielberg.

“I went from the basement to the penthouse in a matter of weeks,” Fisher said. It happened near his 40th birthday.

“That was a great way to ring in a new chapter in my life,” he said.

Fisher is known locally for writing the musical “Something in the Water,” which was produced at the Paramount Arts Center, as well as the indie films “Summer Nuts” and “King of Iron Town.” He also wrote “Ghost Stories” and adapted “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Dracula” for Jenny Wiley Theatre.

Fisher said although “Extant” is science fiction, it has an everyday appeal.

“It’s high-concept, but the core of it is about one extraordinary family at the epicenter of these massive changes happening to the Earth. The family is a microcosm: if they survive, humanity survives. That’s something people relate to – they’re going root for this family and they’re going to root for Halle Berry,” he said.

Drama producer Greg Walker, who will be the showrunner, agreed. A showrunner is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a television series and are credited as executive producers.

“It’s really a story of a family we can all relate to,” Walker said. “The best way to go is to look at the strength of Mickey’s writing, which is rooted in character, family and emotion. It’s an intriguing vision of the future in which the problems are very much the problems of today — staying connected with family in an advanced world.”

“Extant” has been compared to Stephen King’s “Under the Dome,” a hit on CBS. Both are 13-episode, straight-to-series orders and both were sold worldwide; both are science fiction with Spielberg as executive producer.

Fisher said “Extant” is a rather traditional television program.

“It doesn’t employ a lot of what the cable networks go for — it’s not dark and there isn’t a lot of violence,” he said. “It does share some of those cable themes, but the popcorn side of it is what really makes it right for broadcast. Hopefully we can extract a little bit of both.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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