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Once a series

There is little doubt that Alliance Atlantis and October Moon's upcoming John Woo's Once a Thief
will make it to stations on time next fall. The action series from the director of such theatrical films as Mission Impossible 2
and Face/Off
has already aired overseas.

"We have a tremendous advantage in that the first season is already done," says October Moon President Chuck Larsen, whose company is handling distribution chores.

Once a Thief, one of Woo's first martial-arts films, was released in 1990 and remade for Fox in the late '90s. Alliance Atlantis turned the film into an action series in '99 and sold it internationally, but studio executives say they didn't attempt to sell it to the crowded U.S. action-hour market at the time. Now Larsen and Alliance Atlantis's Jeff Lynas say there is renewed interest in another season of the series—depending on how it does in the U.S.

The series features four young martial artists who work for a secret government agency, fighting crime and terrorism. Ivan Sergei, who starred in The WB's Jack and Jill
the last two seasons, plays one of the four.

"We may have been a bit early for this genre in the U.S," Lynas says. "If you look at the marketplace now, this sort of martial-arts world has moved not just to theatrical but to TV, too. We think it's the right time for the series here in the U.S. now."

Twenty-two episodes have been produced, and the series will debut in syndication in September. According to Larsen, Once a Thief
has been cleared in more than 60% of the country thus far, including weekend spots on KCAL-TV Los Angeles and KRON-TV San Francisco.

As for whether Woo, whose new film Wind Talkers
is due this summer, will be on board for a second season, Alliance Atlantis and October Moon executives say it's too early to tell.