EXCLUSIVE: We need to qualify Steven Soderbergh‘s self-imposed retirement from the business with an asterisk: feature films only. Just as his final film Behind The Candelabra airs this Sunday on HBO, Soderbergh is in talks to team with Clive Owen on The Knick, a period series set in New York in 1900. I’m told that he and Owen will set this series at Cinemax, which will give him a 10-episode season commitment. Soderbergh will direct all of the episodes. The setting: downtown New York in 1900, a tumultuous time of massive change and great progress. The series centers around the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff at Knickerbocker Hospital, who are pushing the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Jack Amiel & Michael Begler wrote the pilot on spec, and they will be executive producers on the series. Owen and Soderbergh are also executive producers and so are Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Soderbergh’s longtime producer Gregory Jacobs.
While this might make some might look cynically on Soderbergh’s “retirement,” he told me the other day in an interview for the Michael Douglas-Matt Damon Liberace movie that for the moment, he has shut the door on feature films. I can see that he likes the energy present in pay and basic … Read More »
Logan Marshall-Green has been cast as the title character in Quarry, a drama project for Cinemax based on the series of novels by Max Allan Collins (Road To Perdition graphic novel). Written by Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, Quarry is set in the 1970s and centers on a Marine sniper (Marshall-Green) who, upon his return home from Vietnam in 1973, finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonized by the public. Combat-hardened and disillusioned, he’s recruited into a network of contract killers and corruption spanning the length of the Mississippi River. John Hillcoat is set to direct the pilot, co-produced by Anonymous Content. Hillcoat, Gordy, Fuller, Collins and Ken Levin executive produce with Anonymous’ Steve Golin, David Kanter, Matt DeRoss and Keith Redmon.
Cinemax has given a pilot order to Quarry, a drama project based on the series of novels by Max Allan Collins (Road To Perdition graphic novel). Written by Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, Quarry is set in the 1970s and centers on a Marine sniper who, upon his return home from Vietnam in 1973, finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonized by the public. Combat-hardened and disillusioned, he’s recruited into a network of contract killers and corruption spanning the length of the Mississippi River. John Hillcoat is set to direct the pilot, co-produced by Anonymous Content. Hillcoat, Gordy and Fuller, all CAA and Anonymous clients, executive produce with Anonymous’ Steve Golin, David Kanter, Matt DeRoss and Keith Redmon. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Cinemax has put in development The Straits, a drama series adaptation of the 2012 Australian series starring Brian Cox. Hell On Wheels creators Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton will write, executive produce and run the project, a gritty modern-day drama that tells the story of a powerful and dangerous crime family who run their business out of the Florida Keys and into Jamaica, trafficking drugs, guns and exotic animals. When the kingpin tells his three sons that he has not yet chosen a successor, he sets in motion a series of catastrophic events that could destroy the very business he’s fought to build.
The original series, based on an idea by and co-starring actor Aaron Fa’aoso, was produced by Australian production company Matchbox Pictures, in which NBCUniversal has a majority stake. The Cinemax version will be co-produced by two other NBCU divisions, Working Title and Universal TV. The original series is available in the U.S. on Hulu (watch the trailer below). The Gaytons, repped by UTA, created AMC’s period Western drama Hell On Wheels and served as executive producers on the series for the first two seasons until their departure last October. Their feature credits include Faster for CBS Films with Castle Rock Entertainment and two other project for Castle Rock, Salt & Sea and Murder By Numbers.
As all eyes are on the ratings for last night’s Season 2 finale of HBO’s Girls (expected any minute now), the season-finale numbers for Banshee, which airs on HBO sibling Cinemax, also came out today. While not as noisy as Girls and other cable series, the freshman drama executive produced by Alan Ball, which was already renewed for a second season, had a solid freshman run. Its season finale Friday drew 455,000 viewers at 10 PM and 655,000 viewers for the two plays on the night. That is the largest audience yet for a Cinemax original series finale and third-highest for Banshee. Even before the finale, Banshee (average of 433,000 viewers in Live+Same Day/727,000 in Live+7) already outranked the two seasons of Cinemax’s Strike Back (303,000/512,000 for Season 2, 290,000/441,000 for Season 1).
Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives), Milauna Jackson (Blood Done Sign My Name) and Robson Green (Wire In The Blood) have been added to the cast of Cinemax‘s action drama Strike Back as it starts production on a 10-episode Season 3. (Watch the teaser below.) The trio joins returning cast members Philip Winchester, Sullivan Stapleton, Rhona Mitra, Michelle Lukes and Liam Garrigan. Green plays a new member of Section 20, Scott a rogue operative James Leatherby, and Jackson is a key player who crosses paths with the counterterrorism team. In Strike Back’s third season, counterterrorism unit Section 20 pursues a deadly terrorist network from Colombia to Beirut to Europe, uncovering deadly plots that reach to the West. Returning directors are Michael J. Bassett (who also serves as co-executive producer), Julian Holmes and Paul Wilmshurst; returning writers are Simon Burke, James Dormer, John Simpson and Richard Zajdlic. Cinemax is producing with Left Bank Pictures and Sky.
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, Bansheedrew 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. Read More »
Cinemax‘s new drama seriesBanshee, executive produced by Alan Ball, will debut on Friday, January 11 at 10 PM. The action series starring Antony Starr as an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pa., where he continues his criminal activities, was originally developed at HBO before migrating to sister network Cinemax. Jonathan Tropper, David Schickler, Peter Macdissi, Ball and director Greg Yaitanes executive produce the 10-episode series, which co-stars Ivana Milicevic, Ulrich Thomsen, Frankie Faison, Hoon Lee, Rus Blackwell and Matt Servitto.
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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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.
The Nordic region is a hotbed of action today. Netflix this morning announced it would expand into Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland by the end of the year and now here comes HBO. The pay-TV group says it is partnering with Peter Ekelund/Parsifal International on a joint multi-platform video distribution venture, HBO Nordic, which will also serve Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. The partners say further details will be unveiled at the end of the month in Sweden. HBO’s flagship service and Cinemax have about 93M subscribers worldwide with services available in over 60 countries.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
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.
Banshee, Cinemax’s upcoming action drama series executive produced by Alan Ball, has cast its first 3 regulars: Matt Servitto (Harry’s Law), Trieste Dunn and Daniel RossOwens. The 10-episode series, written by authors Jonathan Tropper and David Schickler, centers on an ex-convict and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, PA, where he continues his criminal activities even as he’s being hunted by the shadowy gangsters he had betrayed years earlier. Servitto will play Brock Lotus, the longest-serving deputy in the Banshee sheriff’s department. Dunn will play Siobhan Kelly, a spitfire female deputy in the sheriff’s department. Owens will play Mayor Dan Kendall, the young, idealistic mayor of Banshee. Greg Yaitanes (House) is directing the first episode of the series, which starts shooting this spring on location in and around Charlotte, North Carolina for a 2013 premiere. Ball, Tropper, Schickler, Yaitanes and Peter Macdissi are executive producing. Ball will be juggling production of both Banshee and his HBO vampire drama True Blood. Earlier this week, HBO confirmed that Ball will step down as showrunner of True Blood after the upcoming fifth season.
EXCLUSIVE: Alan Ball, creator/executive producer of HBO’s hit vampire drama series True Blood, is getting another series, this time on HBO’s sister network Cinemax. Cinemax has given a 10-episode order to Banshee, an action drama executive produced by Ball and written by authors Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You), and David Schickler (Kissing in Manhattan). Emmy-winning director Greg Yaitanes (House) has come on board to helm the first episode of the series, which centers around an ex-convict and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, PA, where he continues his criminal activities even as he’s being hunted by the shadowy gangsters he had betrayed years earlier. Yaitanes will also serve as an executive producer on the series alongside Ball, Tropper, Schickler and Peter Macdissi.
Banshee, which had been described as Walking Tall meets History of Violence, landed at Cinemax via HBO where the project was originally developed. It was put on a fast track last summer when Ball began assembling a writing staff. The actioner will start shooting this spring on location in and around Charlotte, North Carolina for a 2013 premiere. Bell will juggle production on both Banshee and True Blood, which is now filming Season 5. At Cinemax, Banshee joins a growing slate of original action drama series, including Strike Back, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Rhona Mitra is finalizing a deal to land the new female lead on Cinemax’s Strike Back in the action drama’s upcoming 10-episode second season. She will play the beautiful, cunning and ultimately ruthless Capt. Rachel Dalton of the British military who is offered the position of head of Section 20 after a long stint working in North Africa. Mitra’s character is expected to fill the void left by the demise of Amanda Mealing’s Col. Eleanor Grant in the first season finale of Strike Back. The series, whose second season is slated to begin filming soon in South Africa, is produced by Cinemax/HBO, Left Bank and Sky, which airs the series in the U.K. Strike Back stars Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester. Season 1 told the story of a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative (Stapleton) who joins with a stealth British military unit when a resourceful international terrorist group plots a major attack. British-born Mitra, whose series credits include The Practice, Boston Legal and Nip/Tuck, is repped by Gersh, Untitled and UK’s Ken McReddie.
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. Read More »
Cinemax’s first primetime drama series Strike Back is a keeper. HBO’s sibling cable network has picked up a 10-episode second season of the action series to air next year. Filming will begin in South Africa in early 2012. Returning as producing partners to Cinemax/HBO are Left Bank and Sky, which will air the series in the U.K. Also coming back are Left Bank’s Andy Harries and Sky’s Huw Kennair-Jones as executive producers, series producer Michael Casey, head of production Marigo Kehoe, series directors Bill Eagles, who will direct four new episodes, Paul Wilmshurst, who will direct two episodes, and writer Tony Saint, who will write a number of episodes and co-executive produce. There must be major deaths coming in the final episodes of Season 1 of Strike Back, which ends Oct. 21, as Cinemax declined to announce the cast for Season 2 “due to plot spoilers in upcoming episodes”. Season 1 starred Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester, with Amanda Mealing, Eva Birthistle, Jimi Mistry, Rhashan Stone, Michelle Lukes and Richard Armitage. The current season of the show tells the story of a charismatic former U.S. Special Forces operative (Stapleton) who joins with a stealth British military unit when a resourceful international terrorist group plots a major attack.