By Benjamin Wright | The Playlist August 7, 2012 at 3:00PM
It may be hard to recall now, but there was once a time when director M. Night Shyamalan was coined by Time magazine as “The Next Spielberg,” and the fact that almost everything the helmer touched, starting with 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” seemed to turn to gold, he was certainly becoming the go-to poster boy for blockbuster genre filmmaking in the same vein as the bearded one. Now after a storied series of missteps which includes directing films like “The Happening” and “The Last Airbender,” along with a notoriously humorless approach to looking at his own work, much of the goodwill Shyamalan built early in his career has seemed to all but vanish from even some of his most adamant defenders. We know he’s currently in the post-production phase of his upcoming sci-fi blockbuster “After Earth” – which will see father-son acting duo Will and Jaden Smith share the screen once again -- but in a twist fit for one of the helmer’s own films, it looks like he’s set to make the leap to television.
News trickled out recently that Shyamalan will be taking his approach of spinning modern “Twilight Zone”-like tales to Syfy for a series called “Proof.” Marking his first foray into scripted television, Syfy has committed to a pilot for the series, with Shyamalan most likely set to helm. “Proof” will follow the son of a billionaire tech genius who offers a large reward to anyone who can prove there is an afterlife, following an accident that claims his parents' lives. Sounds right within “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs” wheelhouse for Shyamalan, though what may ease many sentiments that the filmmaker is now using the small screen as just another outlet to produce gorgeous-looking but hollow genre stories, is the fact that Marti Noxon – of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Mad Men,” and the (seriously) criminally underrated “Fright Night” remake fame – will be on screenwriting duties along with Shyamalan. A notorious stickler when it comes to his scripts – he famously blew off long-time collaborator Disney when then-president of development Nina Jacobsen didn’t like his screenplay for “Lady In The Water” – Shyamalan seems to have been softening up on that end, allowing fresh voices like Stephen Gaghan and Gary Whitta tackle script duties on “After Earth,” hopefully allowing the helmer to focus squarely on giving the film a great look and making sure everyone hits their marks.
We’re eager to see how this all works out, though as with any Shyamalan project nowadays it’s important to remain (VERY) cautiously optimistic – if at all. There’s no word on when production will rev up for this one, but we’d assume that Shyamalan has to finish up “After Earth” first, which we may get a taste of soon, since the filmmaker has been casually dropping hints through his very entertaining Twitter account that the trailer will make its way to theaters via Middle Earth. When asked when it’ll debut by a fan, Shyamalan coyly replied: “It will be seen around Christmas on a film with a very short protagonist.” Sounds like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” to us!