The Emmy-nominated, record-breaking independent online comedy “Con Man” has found a new home, one that producers deem a perfect fit: Syfy. The network announced Friday during the show’s Comic-Con panel that it had acquired both seasons of the “Con Man,” which will premiere on television this September.
The Alan Tudyk series is a somewhat fictionalized version of his experiences as a well-known sci-fi actor who attends a lot of fan conventions. This is big news not just for fans of “Con Man,” but for anyone fascinated by the evolution of the concept of independent television.
“Con Man” was born in 2015 via a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign launched by Tudyk, his fellow “Firefly” star Nathan Fillion and producer P.J. Haarsma. Over two seasons the show has featured a huge cast from the fan convention world, including Tudyk, Fillion, Mindy Sterling, Amy Acker, Sean Astin, Tricia Helfer, Felicia Day, Casper Van Dien, Nolan North, Alison Haislip, Michael Trucco, Sky Haarsma, Seth Green, and Wil Wheaton.
The series initially made its premiere via Vimeo VOD, while the second season was distributed by Comic-Con HQ, the streaming platform owned by Lionsgate – which handles “Con Man’s” distribution.
“’Con Man’ is a show that everybody needs to see,” Haarsma said, prior to the deal. “Comic Con HQ did a great job. And we were very very successful there. But l had always dreamed of a bigger audience. Tudyk is so talented and so funny, he just wanted the world to get a piece of that humor. So with this new thing coming up I think we’re finally gonna go from thousands to millions.”
Not only that, but it’s possible that the deal could lead to more seasons being produced. “Depending on how well it does, hopefully it will be picked up for more,” Haarsma said.
“Con Man” may not be on TV yet, but it has already been nominated for two Emmys this year, in the Short Form category: Both Tudyk and Mindy Sterling were recognized for their performances by the Academy. While the Syfy launch won’t happen before the end of voting, the confidence shown in “Con Man” thanks to this deal could help boost their chances.
The acquisition comes as Syfy rebrands and recommits to genre programming — and you can’t get more genre-friendly than a show featuring nearly every famous nerd celebrity on the planet.
While starring known TV talent, and built very much on the pre-established “Firefly” fanbase, “Con Man’s” latest success is key for the concept of independent television. Over the years, several web original series have made the leap to television, but this is the rare instance of a fully-produced series being acquired and aired largely as-is. (The original web-distributed episodes, with approximate runtimes of 10–17 minutes, will be combined into half-hour installments for linear telecast.)
While Lionsgate holds the distribution rights for “Con Man,” Tudyk, Fillion and Haarsma own the actual intellectual property, which allowed them to expand the brand to a comic book and a mobile game.
“We were lucky, because the fans supported us so much and gave us the money to really go. That unique way to finance a television show allowed us to maintain the I.P.,” Haarsma said.
Ultimately, the move means that “Con Man” will have an opportunity to be enjoyed by a bigger audience than ever. “Alan is a genius — he hates it when I say that, but he writes some funny shit. People deserve to have that laugh, and that’s all he wants to do, is make people laugh,” Haarsma said. “His biggest thing is to sit in an audience and watch them laugh, and it kills him when somebody hasn’t seen the show. So it’s my gift to him to make sure that everybody possible can see it.”
“Con Man” will premiere on Syfy in September.