EXCLUSIVE: NBCUniversal-owned Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films is teaming with True Detective maker Anonymous Content on what they predict will be a provocative new series, Nostradamus. Joseph Fiennes will produce and play the titular clairvoyant in the hour-long drama. Charlotte Markham And The House Of Darkling author Michael Boccacino wrote the project that was developed in partnership with executive producer Andrew Cosby. The story follows the legendary seer as he seeks deadly vengeance for the murder of his family. A complex, brooding character with immense appetites, Nostradamus is a charismatic and self-destructive man who is plagued with dangerous and disturbing visions.
The period series is set against the backdrop of the volatile, high-stakes world of the French Royal Court where the Provençal apothecary’s pleasure-seeking impulses and passionate thirst for revenge run headlong into the treacherous epicenter of social and political life of Renaissance era Europe. The project is in early development and episode totals and broadcasters have yet to be set. But it looks likely this will be one of those that seeks out the high-end UK TV tax credit.
Carnival and Anonymous Content are both riding high these days, each receiving 12 Emmy nominations for Downton Abbey and True Detective, respectively. Fiennes, who is repped by Anonymous Content, The Artists Partnership and WME, last appeared on television in the 2nd season of American Horror Story. … Read More »
BBC America said today that it has greenlighted Tatau, a drama from the producers of Being Human. The series is set in the Cook Islands, a paradise in the middle of the Pacific. The eight-episode season is written by Richard Zajdlic and co-produced by Touchpaper TV (Being Human) and South Pacific Pictures for BBC Three in association with BBC America. Filming starts in September, and casting will be announced.
Related: Carnival Films, BBC America, BBC2 Chart Historical Drama ‘The Last Kingdom’
The drama follows Kyle Connor and Pete “Budgie” Griffiths, twentysomething friends from London who set off to travel the world. They’ve worked hard, saved even harder and they’re now eager to soak up as many different cultures and experiences as possible. Ahead of the journey, Kyle gets a Maori-style tattoo to celebrate their eventual destination: the Cook Islands. But upon his arrival in the South Pacific, he is unsettled by the local people’s reaction to his tattoo – it clearly has a significance that he is entirely unaware of. Later, while snorkeling in a lagoon, Kyle discovers the dead body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater. When he returns with the police, the corpse has disappeared. Budgie questions if his friend is going mad, but Kyle begins to believe that he instead has seen into the future. Kyle and Budgie find themselves sucked into a desperate race to prevent Aumea’s murder, as Kyle learns that his gifts don’t stop at prophecy — and the full meaning of the tattoo soon is revealed. Tatau is an ambitious drama that explores the questions of identity, love and destiny. Read More »
Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films will travel back much further in time for its latest period drama — a Game Of Thrones-esque epic. The NBC-owned company is teaming with BBC America to co-produce ninth century-set eight-part historical series The Last Kingdom for BBC Two. Based on Bernard Cornwell’s book series The Saxon Stories, The Last Kingdom will combine real historical figures and events with fictional characters during the reign of Alfred the Great, who as King of Wessex fought off a Viking invasion. Replete with heroic deeds and epic battles, the series will also embrace politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and the universal search for identity. Stephen Butchard (Good Cop, Five Daughters, House Of Saddam) is scripting. Production starts in the fall and casting has yet to be confirmed. Carnival’s Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant will exec produce with Butchard. Nick Murphy (Prey, Occupation) is co-executive producing and directing multiple episodes. Chrissy Skinns (Mr Selfridge) will produce.
The series slots into BBC Two’s strong drama portfolio. On deck, it’s also got the ambitious Wolf Hall, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.
Set in the year 872, when many of the separate kingdoms of what is now known as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, the great kingdom of Wessex has been left standing alone and defiant under the command of King Alfred the Great. Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred, the hero of the stories. When his noble Saxon parents are killed by the Vikings, the marauders kidnap him and raise him as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are continually tested. On a quest to claim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, seek to recapture his ancestral lands. Read More »
X Files veteran Frank Spotnitz moved to London for Cinemax/BBC series Hunted a few years back, and in 2013 launched London-based Big Light Productions. Now, he’s digging even further into the UK TV scene. Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer (Houdini) have created crime series Freud: The Secret Casebook. NBC Universal-owned Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films will produce with Big Light. The period drama will see Sigmund Freud become the world’s first criminal profiler. Set in early 20th century Vienna, the series will focus on Freud as he uses his startling new theories about psychology to help solve crimes, and will blend episodic murder mysteries with the on-going tale of the psychoanalyst-cum-detective’s tangled and provocative personal life. The project is out to cast and directors. Downton‘s Gareth Neame is exec producing with Nigel Marchant for Carnival; Alan Gasmer (Vikings), Matt Baer (Unbroken) and Christian Popp and Alexander Keil of Germany’s Producers at Work are also exec producing. Spotnitz is keeping busy in Europe these days. He was at Mip-TV in Cannes last week to talk about his gig as showrunner on the second season of TNT pick-up Transporter The Series, and he also unveiled Big Light’s new first-look distribution deal with Tandem Communications. Transporter, which he boarded in season two, will air on TNT later this year.
Carnival Films and ITV have set a handful of new names to join the cast of Downton Abbey as it heads into its 5th season. Richard E. Grant will play Simon Bricker who visits the estate as a guest of the Granthams. Anna Chancellor (The Hour), fresh off a West End production of Private Lives, is also coming aboard in the guest role of Lady Anstruther. Rade Sherbedgia (Snatch, Taken 2) will play Russian refugee, Kuragin, who has fled the Russian revolution after World War I. Downton executive producer Gareth Neame said, “We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of Downton. The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show.” Returning guest cast member Dame Harriet Walter will also reprise her role as Lady Shackleton, and Peter Egan will return as Lord Flintshire. Last season, the series added a host of actors in key roles, including bringing Paul Giamatti on for the Christmas movie.
Season 4 of Downton saw the period drama’s strongest ever launch in the UK, with 12M viewers and a 40% share. It averaged 11.8M viewers across the run. In the U.S., its January bow hit a record high of 15M viewers. Season 5 will run for the usual eight episodes and a two-hour Christmas special. Returning … Read More »
Sally Woodward Gentle was most recently creative director at Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films. Now striking out on her own, the exec has launched production company SID Gentle Films with financial backing from Ron Burkle‘s global investment firm The Yucaipa Companies. SID Gentle is eyeing scripted drama, TV movies and miniseries as well as indie features. The company is already in development on a Neal Purvis/Robert Wade-penned project for the BBC, and a supernatural thriller from Ben Court and Caroline Ip, also for the BBC. Former Carnival exec Henrietta Colvin is also joining SID Gentle Films as head of development. Lee Morris, who’s currently producing Da Vinci’s Demons, will come aboard as managing director in the New Year. Woodward Gentle’s producing credits include Channel 4′s BAFTA award-winning Any Human Heart, ITV drama series Whitechapel and Helena Bonham Carter drama Enid. She is also exec producing Carnival’s upcoming romancer The 7.39 starring David Morrissey, Sheridan Smith and Olivia Coleman.
EXCLUSIVE: Downton Abbey is painting a fascinating picture of Britain’s society in the early 20th century. Now the company behind the Emmy-winning drama, London-based Carnival Films, is revisiting the time period with another drama project, this time through the eyes of one of the country’s most famous politicians, Winston Churchill. The NBCUniversal-owned company has optioned Michael Shelden’s true-life Edwardian saga, Young Titan, to develop into a series first for the UK, and then take it to the U.S. and global markets. Published in March by Simon & Schuster, the book tells the colorful story of Churchill’s early career, from 1901 to 1915, at the height of England’s imperial glory. American-born Shelden, repped by The Friedrich Agency, wrote for the London Daily Telegraph for 15 years, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his biography of George Orwell. CAA brokered the rights deal on his behalf.
EXCLUSIVE: Deborah Oppenheimer has been named to the newly created role of executive vp at Carnival Films, giving the company a dedicated full-time presence in Los Angeles, as the company expands further into the US and international markets. Oppenheimer will be responsible for launching new scripted series for Carnival and will continue to oversee its flagship series, Downton Abbey, which has sold into more than 200 territories and has been seen by 120 million viewers worldwide.
Oppenheimer will play a pivotal role in the company’s domestic and international growth strategy, reporting directly to Carnival Managing Director Gareth Neame. Over the past three years, Oppenheimer has led the Los Angeles operations for NBCU International Television Production, working across all its labels – including Carnival (Dracula), as well as Matchbox Pictures (Camp), and Lucky Giant (Family Tree). Oppenheimer also was responsible for, and exec produced, the HBO and BBC2 co-production of Family Tree from director Christopher Guest. Oppenheimer worked closely with Carnival Films, managing Downton Abbey’s success in the US, and oversaw its production of Dracula, which will air on NBC in the US. Read More »