November 07, 2012 7:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Sundance Developing Dramas From Robert Redford, Michael Fuchs, More (Exclusive)
As the Sundance Channel prepares for next year's launch of its first scripted series in Rectify, the network has put its first full slate of projects into development.
The AMC-owned network is developing five scripted dramas to join its legal entry from Oscar winner Ray McKinnon (The Accountant) hailing from producers including Sundance co-founder Robert Redford, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
Since debuting Golden Globe-winning series Carlos in 2010, the network has continued its march into scripted with limited series Appropriate Adult, Restless and Top of the Lake, with works from producers Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, Bored to Death's Sarah Condon, This American Life's Ira Glass and Amistad's Bob Cooper.
"We use the word 'daring' when we talk about what we're looking for," Sundance GM and exec vp Sarah Barnett tells THR. "It harkens back to the best of what you think of in independent storytelling that's inspired by the sort of stories that our sister network AMC has been telling over the past few years."
Valentines is based on the novel by Olaf Olafsson revolves around the most candid moments between lovers when unspoken truths and long-buried secrets surge and things change in an instant. Olafsson will pen the drama, which hails from Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn's Sundance Productions and Fred Berner. The story follows Herman Peterson, a high-powered New York attorney and his three daughters.
Coming of age surfing drama Behind the Sun takes place in Malibu in the mid-1980s and centers on the growing pains of the Georges, a family whose lives unravel after their teen son Farron learns he has a rare allergy to the sun. Dylan Gary (Tell Me You Love Me) will pen the script for Olive Productions' Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi and Wren Arthur.
The Descendants is described as a hard-hitting drama that revolves around a weathered sheriff struggling to keep his family together while policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains. Condon will produce the project with Contraband's Aaron Guzikowski on board to pen the script.
This American Life's Glass and Alissa Shipp will produce T, a personal look into the head space and recent past of Terrence -- a post-op transgendered male who has recently undergone sex reassignment surgery who's beginning to live his new life out in the open as man. In Treatment's Anya Epstein and Dan Futterman will pen the script, which will cut between Terrence's present and his time as Thora, a lesbian student activist at Mt. Holyoke College in 2005.
Death in the Modern Agehails from writers Josh Shaffer and Eli Kooris and centers on a down-on-his-luck suburban guy who has always played by the rules who decides to radically reinvent himself by plotting his own death in order to start a new life. In the era of DNA testing, digital footprints and a lack of anonymity, his escape and transformation prove to be easier said than done. Landscape Entertainment's Cooper, JJ Jamieson and Michel Fuchs will produce for eOne.
Sundance's previous scripted efforts have included Carlos and the two-part Emily Watson miniseries Appropriate Adult.
Seven-part mini Top of the Lake, from Jane Campion and starring Holly Hunter and Elisabeth Moss, and Restless, a two-episode spy thriller starring Michael Gambon will premiere next year.
Death Row legal drama Rectify will bow next year as a six-episode freshman run with the potential to continue on at the network. The series, from Breaking Bad producers Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein, marks its first wholly owned scripted drama.
Sundance Channel, launched in 1996 and operated by AMC Networks, currently reaches 42 million households.