Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: The gold mining gang from Discovery Channel‘s hit docu series Gold Rush is trying its luck in the Klondike this season, after the the series hit another ratings high on Friday. The cable network is staying in the iconic Arctic area with its first scripted program — a miniseries about the Klondike Gold Rush of 1895 co-produced by Scott Free Television, Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures. Discovery has given the green light to the mini, tentatively titled Klondike, which is based on Canadian journalist Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike. Written by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, Klondike tells the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike. It follows two childhood best friends, Bill and Epstein, in the late 1890s as they head to the gold rush capital in the untamed Yukon Territory. In that land full of undiscovered wealth, they must navigate harsh conditions, unpredictable weather and desperate, dangerous characters including greedy businessmen, seductive courtesans and native tribes witnessing the destruction of their people and land by opportunistic entrepreneurs. “Klondike was the last great gold rush; one which triggered a flood of prospectors ill-equipped, emotionally or otherwise, for the extreme and grueling conditions of the remote Yukon wilderness,” said Ridley Scott. “The personal adventures are as epic as the landscape, where ambition, greed, sex and murder, as well as their extraordinary efforts to literally strike it rich, are all chronicled by a young Jack London himself.”

Epic period miniseries like Klondike already provided a successful entry into scripted programming for two other basic cable networks — AMC with Broken Trail, which was co-produced by Nomadic, and History, which like Discovery is best known for its stable of blue-collar docu reality series, with Hatfield & McCoys. With Klondike, Discovery is branching out from unscripted programming while staying in its signature “gold rush” arena, which has provided the setting for several of its reality series including Gold Rush, Bering Sea Gold and Jungle Gold. “We’ve been developing scripted for some time but wanted to find the perfect fit. When we read Gold Diggers, we knew we finally found it,” said Eileen O’Neill, Group President of Discovery and TLC Networks, “Discovery created and owns the ‘gold’ narrative with several of our hit series and we’re elated to partner with Scott Free Television and eOne Television on a subject we know so well as our first, scripted project.”

Klondike is a co-production between Discovery; eOne, which will handle international distribution; and Nomadic Pictures in association with Scott Free TV. The project was developed at Scott Free with Scheuring, who will executive produce alongside Scott Free’s Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker; eOne’s  John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg; and Nomadic’s Mike Frislev and Chad Oakes. Scheuring is the primary writer; Josh Goldin & Rachel Abramowitz are also writing episodes as consulting producers. Production begins in March 2013 on location in Alberta, Canada, with assistance of the Government of Alberta, Alberta Film Development Program.

Scott Free TV, whose acclaimed series The Good Wife is in its fourth season on CBS, recently produced miniseries Coma for A&E and World Without End for Reelz and has the upcoming documentary Killing Lincoln on National Geographic Channel. eOne’s series include Hell On Wheels, co-produced by Nomadic Pictures, and Haven. Scheuring, Goldin and Abramowitz are with CAA.

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