‘Salvation’ Showrunners Avoid Asteroid, Land Summer Series

Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro, showrunners on CBS drama Salvation—which premieres Wednesday—got involved with the project when Glenn Geller, then president of entertainment at CBS, called last September and said he needed a summer 2017 series. The husband and wife team says Glenn had a script that had caught his attention, about an asteroid zooming toward Earth.

Kruger and Shapiro read the script and suggested different angles from which to tell the story. Geller then said he wanted the new script in ten days.

“We had our own personal asteroid coming toward us,” says Kruger.

But they locked themselves in a room and started banging away on it and delivered the script to Geller on time. A short while later, they had a summer series in the works.

Geller, who stepped down as president in late May, described Salvation as a “high concept, highly promotable show with great auspices.”

Salvation centers on the discovery that an enormous asteroid is six months away from crashing into Earth. MIT grad student Liam Cole and tech billionaire Darius Tanz, who the showrunners see as a mash-up of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, team up to stop the disaster. That involves a trip to the Pentagon, where the Department of Defense has its own plan to stop the asteroid.

The cast includes Santiago Cabrera, Jennifer Finnigan, Charlie Rowe, Jacqueline Byers and Rachel Drance.

Kruger and Shapiro have been a writing and producing team for 19 years. Shapiro describes Salvation as a “geopolitical thriller.”

“We have to come together for the good of the planet,” he adds, “before we destroy ourselves.”

Kruger says it’s a love story. “Who do you love, and how do you love,” she says, “when you feel your days are numbered?”

If you miss the premiere of Salvation, you can watch it this weekend on Amazon, which acquired the subscription streaming rights to the show and will offer episodes four days after they debut. CBS and Amazon have partnered on similar deals with Under the Dome and Extant.

Kruger and Shapiro were executive producers on sci-fi series Extant. Kruger says they’re “thrilled” to have Amazon on board with Salvation. “Most people today watch through streaming,” she says. “People don’t sit home and wait to watch their favorite program.”

Kruger believes Salvation is “the perfect summer show,” with a mix of thrills that go well with popcorn.

Shapiro feels it’s “liberating” to be on in the summer, and to have a smaller number of episodes in which to spin a compelling yarn. “It’s hard to tell a serialized story in 22 episodes,” Kruger adds. “Thirteen is nice.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.