Cinemax has renewed Banshee for a second season three weeks into the action series’ freshman run. The second season of the drama, executive produced by Alan Ball, Jonathan Tropper, David Schickler, Peter Macdissi and Greg Yaitanes, will air in 2014. In its January 11 premiere, Banshee drew a respectable 483,000 viewers at 10 PM and 965,000 over three airings. This is the first truly homegrown Cinemax series, having started as a project in development at sibling HBO. It joins Strike Back as the second Cinemax series to score a second-season renewal.
HBO’s sister channel Cinemax has put in development Kingpin, an hourlong drama from Black List writer Chad St. John (Ronin) and Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment. It is one of two drama projects St. John and Overbrook are collaborating on, along with Watchlist, which recently sold to Fox. Both are executive produced by St. John, his wife Viruna Arend and Lassiter.
Kingpin centers on a crafty and careful mid-level drug trafficker trying to get out of the business. He is blackmailed back into it by a dirty DEA agent — who’s really a dirty CIA agent, because the agency can no longer work with murderous cartels — who plans to make the trafficker a puppet kingpin…a tidbit the trafficker and his partners will wish someone would have told them.
EXCLUSIVE: The BBC-Cinemax series Hunted won’t go beyond its current freshman season after BBC One opted not to renew the espionage drama for a second season. But Cinemax is working with series creator Frank Spotnitz on a new incarnation of the show about spy Sam Hunter (Melissa George). “We are making plans with creator and executive producer Frank Spotnitz and star Melissa George to present a new chapter in the Sam Hunter mythology,” Kary Antholis, President, HBO Miniseries and Cinemax Programming, said in a statement to Deadline. “We are very pleased with what Hunted has done for Cinemax’s brand and are very excited about what lies ahead.”
Because of the project’s setup – BBC originally commissioned eight episodes from Shine-owned British production company Kudos Film and Television before Cinemax came on board as producer/U.S. distributor — I hear continuing the series in its current form proved impossible without partner BBC. That has led to Cinemax brass looking for another way to keep the premise and the Sam Hunter character alive while also assuming greater creative control. In a complex co-production agreement like the one on Hunted, it is hard for each of the partners to realize their vision for the show as decisions are often made by compromise. Additionally, for a pay cable network, doing a series with a public broadcaster like the BBC imposes certain restrictions on the content that could be featured.
Cinemax has renewed its first primetime drama series Strike Back for a third season with a 10-episode order for a 2013 premiere. The third season, which will shoot in South Africa and Hungary, will once again be produced by Cinemax/HBO, Left Bank and Sky, which will air the series in the U.K. Returning for season three will be Left Bank’s Andy Harries as executive producer, series producer Michael Casey and head of production Marigo Kehoe. Others returning for season three include director Michael Bassett and writers Simon Burke, James Dormer and Richard Zajdlic. As it did with the second-season renewal announcement, Cinemax would not confirm which cast members will continue in Season 3 “due to plot spoilers in upcoming episodes of season two.”
The Strike Back renewal comes two weeks before the premiere of Cinemax’s second original primetime drama, Hunted. It will be followed by Banshee in 2013.
In the first Cinemax press conference at TCA in nearly 20 years, creator, exec producer and chief writer Frank Spotnitz and star Melissa George dropped by to promote the hotly-anticipated new original espionage series Hunted that premieres on the HBO sister network in October. Hunted is an eight-episode drama featuring George as an operative for an elite private intelligence firm who survives an attempt on her life that may have been orchestrated by members of her own team. Spotnitz told the roomful of reporters and critics that his years working for The X-Files prepared him well for this show. “Back on that show, we began to realize that you could read clues and then wait two or three years before picking up that thread again”, he said, “and people would love you for it, because you’re rewarding their attention and intelligence. It was clear that it was very hard to be as smart as your audience”. Another thing that Spotnitz took away from his X-Files experience was this: “Be ambitious, be as great as you can, and trust in the people watching to be able to piece things together on their own. People are much more engaged in a show if they aren’t being spoon-fed everything”.
EXCLUSIVE: Hurt People, GK-tv’s drama project starring and executive produced by William Petersen, has landed at Cinemax. The HBO sister network has ordered a pilot from the project, which marks Petersen’s return to television after his nine-year starring turn on CSI. Written by Peter Macmanus, Hurt People centers on Hollis Brown (Petersen), a veteran hitman employed by the crime family that killed his wife. Brown has been enlisted to hunt down his estranged daughter who is intent on destroying those responsible for her mother’s death. Petersen is executive producing the pilot with his producing partner Cynthia Chvatal, Macmanus and GK-tv’s Graham King, Tim Headington and Craig Cegielski. Macmanus’ manager Beth Stine is attached as supervising producer. After they liked the original script by former AMC production executive-turned-writer Macmanus, Petersen and Chvatal teamed with GK-tv to develop it. The project was taken out a month ago, targeting mosty cable networks because of its darker tone.
EXCLUSIVE: Filming of Cinemax’s upcoming series Transporter has been temporary suspended after the series star, Chris Vance was injured while shooting an action sequence. I hear no return has been set and the hiatus is expected to last at least 2 weeks. “We want to ensure Chris’ return to peak physical condition before putting him back in front of the camera to continue shooting this fast-paced, action-packed series,” executive producer/showrunner Steve Shill said. Transporter had been shooting in Toronto, with production on the series’ 12-epiosde order slated to continue through November.
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa George has been tapped as the lead in the BBC-Cinemax spy thriller series Nemesis aka Morton, which was created by former X-Files executive producer Frank Spotnitz. BBC One commissioned eight episodes of the project back in January, with Cinemax recently coming on board. Cinemax will co-produce Nemesis with BBC and the UK’s Shine-owned production company Kudos Film and Television, in association with Big Light. In the vein of Bourne Identity, Nemesis is a suspense thriller set in the world of international espionage. It centers on a highly skilled operative (George) for an elite private intelligence firm who survives an attempt on her life that might have been orchestrated by members of her own team. Once she returns to the firm, she must perform her secretive duties without knowing who to trust and who wants her dead. In addition to writing, Spotnitz is executive producing Nemesis with Kudos’ Stephen Garrett, Jane Featherstone and Alison Jackson. S.J. Clarkson will direct the first two episodes of the series, which will start production this fall in Europe and North Africa.
EXCLUSIVE: Sci-fi action-crime series The Sector, from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods and Germany’s Tandem Communications, is no longer set up at Cinemax. There is talk about Discovery’s Science (formerly Science Channel) possibly picking up the action-crime series in the vein of Blade Runner and District 9 that centers on a commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically-enhanced humans. I hear the search is underway for a writer to rework the script by The Sector creators Aaron and Matthew Benay. The Sector had been in development at Cinemax for several months with Simon Mirren attached as exec producer/showrunner and Anne Thomopoluos as executive producer when Tandem, Scott Free and Cinemax announced in April that the project was a go. There has been a discrepancy over the size of the network’s commitment, with some calling it a series order and others insisting it was a pickup of a pilot script and a bible. The commitment is now believed to be the latter, and Cinemax ultimately passed on the project as it already has one direct-to-series primetime drama, Strike Back, on the air; another, Transporter, in production; and a third, the Alan Ball-produced Banshee, which was developed at sister pay cable network HBO, eying a spring production start.