Torchwood To Return With Bigger Budget And International Scope

After the success of the Children of Earth miniseries during the third season of Torchwood the producers wanted to do something similar with a larger budget. Initially there was talk of co-producing Torchwood with Fox but the negotiations broke down. The BBC announced today that a deal was reached to produce a ten episode series with Starz. From the press release:

BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Worldwide and US premium entertainment network Starz Entertainment have today announced a three-way co-production partnership that will develop a new series of the hit BBC sci-fi drama Torchwood. BBC Worldwide will also distribute the series to broadcasters globally.

The 10-episode instalment will be written by a team led by Torchwood creator Russell T Davies and produced by BBC Worldwide productions.

Davies and BBC Worldwide Productions’ SVP Scripted, Julie Gardner, return as executive producers with BBC Worldwide Productions EVP Jane Tranter. The series has been commissioned by Controller BBC One, Jay Hunt, Controller BBC Drama, Ben Stephenson and Starz President and CEO, Chris Albrecht.

While previous series were based on location in Cardiff, Wales, this new instalment will see storylines widen to include locations in the US and around the world.

John Barrowman and Eve Myles will return in their roles as Captain Jack and Gwen respectively, along with new faces.

Announcing the commission, Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, said: “We have a long history of working with many US networks, but it is incredibly exciting to be working with Starz for the first time, as well as to be reunited with the best of British in Russell, Jane and Julie.

“Torchwood will burst back onto the screen with a shocking and moving story with global stakes and locations that will make it feel bigger and bolder than ever.”

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht and Russell T. Davies. Albrecht confirmed that Torchwood would now have a larger budget and while discussing the show:

THR: What attracted you to “Torchwood”?

Albrecht: It was too good an opportunity to pass up. Each season of the show, the show has evolved and “The Children of Earth” was terrific as evident in it was just named a Television Critics Press Awards nominee. I’m interested in doing sci-fi and what I like a lot about “Torchwood” is it’s a very classic sci-fi entry. It’s all about the story, it’s not about big effects. I thought “Children of Earth” evolved the franchise to a place where it could continue to evolve on pay TV with an American partner that could bring more production resources.

THR: And by that you mean “Torchwood” will have a larger budget?

Albrecht: Yes, it certainly will.

THR: What changes are in store for fans?

Albrecht: Well at the end of “Children of Earth,” Torchwood was destroyed, so when we pick up in our world the need for Torchwood arises again. A lot of this story takes place in the U.S. as well with several characters that are in the U.S. intelligence forces and end up teaming up with Gwen and Captain Jack to deal with the situation at hand.

THR: So it will take place in the UK and the US?

Albrecht: As well as other locations.

Davies gave more information on the new series:

THR: What’s the new “Torchwood” like?

Davies: It’s very much the next step. It’s not a new version, it’s not a reboot. We’re simply moving countries. The show was previously a format show — monster of the week. The breakthrough was “Children of Earth” and that it became one long story. It’s not going to be ‘Lost’ and take 20 years to find out what’s going on. It’s going to have a most remarkable conclusion after 10 episodes.

THR: This was set up at Fox, what happened there?

Davies: We had a brilliant relationship with them. Thanks to them we were allowed to develop it and take it to Starz — some networks don’t allow you to do that, you know. They were very gracious. They have their new Steven Spielberg series (“Terra Nova”). Starz was waiting for us with open arms.

THR: Being on Starz would also allow you to have more grown-up content.

Davies: We’re simply going to tell a good story. I wrote the pilot 7 months ago irregardless of network. BBC1 is a prime-time channel, but a brave channel. I don’t worry about content.

THR: In “Torchwood” people know aliens exist. I take it that will be true in the United States as well?

Davies: Yes, in the “Torchwood” universe, you’re in a place where aliens long ago went public. It’s like with terrorists. We all know terrorists exist, but if you found yourself  in a room with one, you’d be in for a profound shock. You’re never in a position where you take it for granted. I absolutely guarantee that you can leap in as a new viewer and be able to find everything.

The New York Times reports that the series will air in the summer of 2011.

United States Performed Experiments On Detainees

Physicians for Human Rights charges that there were violations of medical ethics during the torture of detainees under the Bush administration, with victims used for experimentation:

Medical professionals who were involved in the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogations of terrorism suspects engaged in forms of human research and experimentation in violation of medical ethics and domestic and international law, according to a new report from a human rights organization.

Doctors, psychologists and other professionals assigned to monitor the C.I.A.’s use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques gathered and collected data on the impact of the interrogations on the detainees in order to refine those techniques and ensure that they stayed within the limits established by the Bush administration’s lawyers, the report found. But, by doing so, the medical professionals turned the detainees into research subjects, according to the report, which is scheduled to be published on Monday by Physicians for Human Rights.

The data collected by medical professionals from the interrogations of detainees allowed the C.I.A. to judge the emotional and physical impact of the techniques, helping the agency to “calibrate the level of pain experienced by detainees during interrogation, ostensibly to keep it from crossing the administration’s legal threshold of what it claimed constituted torture,” the report said. That meant that the medical professionals crossed the line from treating the detainees as patients to treating them as research subjects, the report asserted.

These practices likely violate both domestic and international prohibitions against involuntary human experimentation, including those  based on the  Nuremberg Code.

More at Truthout and The American Prospect.

Independent Vote No Longer Strongly Republican As In 2009 Senate Elections

Polls early in the year looked very bad for Democrats but we also knew there was plenty of time for them to improve before the midterm elections. Republicans won the independent vote in Senate elections held in 2009.  Public Policy Polling has mixed news for Democrats today. Independents continue to favor Republicans, but by much smaller margins than earlier in the earlier Senate races.

In the early contests such as in Massachusetts, Republicans won the independent vote by a mean of twenty-eight points. Republicans continue to lead among Democrats in seven of the nine Senate races being polled but in comparison to the races which have already taken place the Republicans lead by a mean of seven points and their maximum lead is fifteen points. Democrats still have a lot of ground to make up but it also seems like the Republicans peaked too soon and the Democrats now have the momentum.