Discovery Channel‘s first-ever miniseries Klondike clocked 3.4 million viewers Monday — the network’s largest ever Monday primetime audience. It also delivered the network’s most-watched Monday among men 18+ and the highest-rated Monday in more than a decade in the 25-54 demo. Featuring a cast including Richard Madden, Abbie Cornish, Tim Roth and Sam Shepard, Part 1 of Klondike repeats tonight at 7 PM, followed by the premiere of Part 2 at 9. The third and final installment of the miniseries premieres tomorrow at 9 PM.
“It’s another piece of American madness,” Sam Shepard said today of Discovery‘s first scripted project, Klondike. “You know, another chunk of insanity that we carry around with us, regardless of whether it’s involved in technology or involved in trapping beavers.” In December, Discovery announced its miniseries about the Klondike Gold Rush of 1895, co-produced by Scott Free Television, eOne and Nomadic Pictures and based on Canadian journalist Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike. The script, written by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, tells the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike. Chris Cooper, cast in February as Father Judge — who has come to Klondike to atone for his violent past on a mission to save souls — exited in March after suffering a minor heart attack. Shepard replaced him.
One TV critic wanted to know if Scheuring was intimidated writing for actor-playwright Shepard. “I wrote it before I knew he was going to be Judge – it’s easy to write in a vacuum.” he responded. That said, Shepard “was willing to collaborate; he had his thoughts,” he continued, adding quickly, “It’s obviously an honor – he’s Sam Shepard!” Shepard didn’t think much of a question about the difference between wearing the “writer hat” and the “actor hat.” “Hats look exactly the same. There’s no difference between The Writing Hat and The Acting Hat,” he said dismissively.
A question about his “motivation” for taking on this role, and whether his motivation for accepting roles has changed over his long career, didn’t play too well either. “Yeah. I was out of work…the landlord was going to kick me out,” he responded.
Chris Cooper has exited Discovery Channel‘s miniseries Klondike due to a personal matter that has unexpectedly arisen. The Oscar winner was the first actor cast in the mini, produced by Scott Free Prods, Discovery Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures. Based on Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike, the mini tells the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town in the remote Klondike. Cooper was to play Father Judge, who has come to Klondike to atone for his violent past on a mission to save souls. The role will now be recast. “I have nothing but respect and admiration for Discovery, Ridley Scott and the very talented cast and crew for bringing this compelling project called Klondike to life and for inviting me to be a part of it,” Cooper said. “It is with regret that I am unable to continue, but I look forward to another opportunity to hopefully work with Discovery in the future.”
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel is putting the finishing touches on the cast for its first original scripted program, six-hour miniseries Klondike. I’ve learned that Game Of Thrones‘ Richard Madden, Augustus Prew (Charlie St. Cloud), Abbie Cornish (RoboCop), Ian Hart (Luck), Johnny Simmons (The Perks Of Being A Wallflower), Conor Leslie (Chained), Tim Roth and Tim Blake Nelson are set or in negotiations to join Chris Cooper in the project, produced by Scott Free Prods., Discovery Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures. Assembling a cast of established actors for Klondike was important for Discovery as it enters the scripted arena. Based on Charlotte Gray’s novel Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich In The Klondike, the mini tells the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small, frontier town in the remote Klondike.
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.”