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Sci Fi Buys 'Scorpion'

Pasadena, Calif.-Sci Fi Channel has acquired exclusive rights to 22 episodes of Roger Corman's comic-book style series, Black Scorpion, officials said last week.

Sci Fi will begin airing the series during the first quarter of next year, network executives told writers at the Television Critics Association summer press tour here last week.

Producer/director Corman (Little Shop of Horrors) and his company, New Concorde, created the show.

In a prepared statement, Corman said, "Financing and producing a full year's program of 22 one-hour shows was the biggest gamble I have ever taken, but it has paid off admirably with the airing of Black Scorpion: The Series on the Sci Fi Channel. Since its inception, the Sci Fi Channel was my first choice, and I'm delighted that it will be premiering there."

The action series stars former Miss Kansas Michelle Lintel as a straight-laced cop who becomes Black Scorpion, a sexy crime fighter, at night. The show also stars Adam West and Scott Valentine, as well as 17 Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets.

"It's done in the inimitable Corman style," Sci Fi executive vice president and general manager Bonnie Hammer said. "It's sexy, campy and fun."

During its presentation, Sci Fi also unveiled plans to create a new programming unit, the Sci Fi Lab, which will develop cutting-edge alternative programming outside of the traditional development process.

Josh Greenberg, most recently Sci Fi's head of marketing, will run the new unit as senior vice president of programming and development for Sci Fi Lab.

Greenberg will lead a small team that will create fully owned programming ideas for Sci Fi, with assistance from a rotating team of "creatives" brought in to work on specific projects.

Hammer said Sci Fi is experimenting with the development process-"no agents, no packagers, no rules"-by forming this "innovative think tank."

The network is also starting production this month on four one-hour specials from Penn Jillette, half of the Penn & Teller magic duo, called Fi-Sci with Penn Jillette: The Fiction-Science Show. In these specials, Jillette will try to separate the science from the fiction found in a number of classic science-fiction television shows and movies.

Jillette will "hilariously debunk the science behind the fiction," according to Hammer.

In addition, Sci Fi ordered nine new episodes of its original series, The Invisible Man.