MIPCOM 2012: 'Sons of Anarchy' Actor Ray McKinnon on Making Sundance Channel's 'Rectify'
CANNES - A dark drama about a convicted rapist and murderer set free after 19 years on death row wouldn't seem an obvious candidate for the next hit series but Sundance Channel's Rectify has been generating buzz since it first screened for international buyers here at MIPCOM.
The series is the brainchild of actor Ray McKinnon (Sons of Anarchy) who marks his television writing debut with this story of Daniel Holden, a man released from prison in Georgia after DNA evidence casts doubt on his guilt. Canadian actor Aden Young stars alongside Abigail Spencer, Clayne Crawford, Adelaide Clemens, J. Smith Cameron and Luke Kirby.
"I got the idea after there were all these cases in the news about people getting released from Death Row on DNA evidence," McKinnon told THR at MIPCOM. "I tried to imagine: what would that first day be like on the outside after so long in prison? And that's what our series is - six episodes over Daniel's first seven days out."
While McKinnon, a Georgian native, said he was careful to make Rectify as "local, particular and American" as possible, the series executive producer Mark Johnson, whose credits include AMC's Emmy-winning Breaking Bad, said Rectify's themes of guilt, punishment and redemption should give it a more universal appeal.
"I actually don't see this series as having as rarified an appeal as Breaking Bad or some of the other quality dramas out there," Johnson said. "This has a very human element to it that is universally understandable."
British media giant ITV seems to agree. ITV's world sales arm, ITV Studios Global Entertainment, has picked up Rectify for international distribution and held a private buyers screening of the series at MIPCOM this week. The drama, which Sundance will bow in the U.S. early next year, is one of the first American series ITV has taken on for global sales.
But while ITV will be hoping for broad audience appeal, McKinnon says Rectify still fits squarely in the tradition of challenging small screen "adult" drama pioneered by series such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad, saying the show "goes off the path." He echoed the opinion of many top bill actors attending MIPCOM this year that the best drama roles available these days are on the small screen.
"None of the film studios are making drama anymore - they will literally tell you 'don't come in and pitch a drama'," Mark Johnson said. "So it's natural that the best talent, the best drama actors and the best drama writing, has migrated to TV."