“Rectify,” the Sundance Channel’s first original scripted series all its own, will premiere next year, marking a shift the network’s been making into the kind of high-end scripted show territory for which its sister channel AMC is best known. Sundance’s dramas have until this point been acquisitions or coproductions like Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos,” the British spy miniseries “Restless” and Jane Campion’s crime saga “Top Of The Lake” (the latter two are upcoming), but with “Rectify” and the slate of scripted series the network announced as in development in the Hollywood Reporter today, it’s clear that the channel wants to establish itself as a place for quality original dramas.
Sundance has five scripted shows in the development, dealing with topics ranging from surfing to sex reassignment.
Coming from Sundance Channel founder Robert Redford and producing partner Laura Michalchyshyn’s Sundance Productions, “Valentines” is based on the book of the same name by Icelandic author (and Time Warner Executive Vice President) Olaf Olafsson. The short story collection focused on candid emotional moments between lovers, instances of honesty that can change a relationship. Olafsson will write the drama, which will be centered on a New York-based lawyer named Herman Peterson and his three daughters.
Behind the Sun
From Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci’s company Olive Productions, “Behind the Sun” is a surfing and coming of age drama set in 1980s Malibu. The script, which is being penned by “Tell Me You Love Me” writer Dylan Gary, will follow what happens to the George family after teenage son Farron learns he has a sun allergy.
Not related to the recent Alexander Payne movie, “The Descendants” is a drama about a sheriff trying to keep the peace between the clashing communities of the small town in which he grew up and the Ramapo Mountains. “Bored to Death” executive producer Sarah Condon will produce the project, which is being written by Aaron Guzikowski (“Contraband”).
Produced by Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp from “This American Life” (whose first venture into indie film produce, “Sleepwalk With Me,” was distributed by Sundance Channel’s sister company IFC Films), “T” is a portrait of a trans man named Terrence who recently underwent sex reassignment surgery and has begun to live his new life as a male. “In Treatment” writer and executive producer Anya Epstein will pen the script with her husband, actor and screenwriter Dan Futterman. The project will cut back and forth between Terrence’s life in the present and his past as Thora, a lesbian student activist attending Mount. Holyoke College in 2005.
Death in the Modern Age
Written by Josh Shaffer and Eli Kooris, “Death in the Modern Age” focuses on a suburban man who decides to fake his own death in order to reinvent himself and start a new life — a plan that’s easier said than done given the identifying technology of the modern age. Bob Cooper (“Amistad”), J.J. Jamieson and Michel Fuchs will produce the project.