'Joan of Arc' Series in the Works From 'Moulin Rouge' Writer (Exclusive)

Craig Pearce Headshot - H 2012

Craig Pearce Headshot - H 2012

FremantleMedia is prepping to tell Joan of Arc's story.

The production company is teaming with Moulin Rouge screenwriter Craig Pearce to develop Kimberly Cutter's best-selling novel The Maid as a television drama series for international audiences. (FremantleMedia has not yet shopped the series to U.S. networks yet.)

The Maid revolves a young peasant girl who believes she is sent by God to save France and will tell the final years of the Hundred Years' War by chronicling them from Joan's perspective as well as the international noble houses which battled for control of the French throne and ultimately the birth of a nation.

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Pearce will serve as writer on the untitled effort, which will be executive produced by Pukeko Pictures, the television company co-founded by Weta Workshop head Richard Taylor.

Pearce will make his small-screen scripted debut, having already penned features Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet and Charlie St. Cloud. The BAFTA winning screenwriter and WGA Award nominee is repped by WME and Hansen Jacobson.  

For his part, Taylor's most recent work comes on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, serving as a costume designer. His credits include Avatar, King Kong and The Lord of the Rings franchise, for which he was part of the Academy Award winning team behind the trilogy's visual effects, costume design and makeup.

"This project is the perfect fit for everything New Zealand has to offer," New Zealand-based Weta Workshop's Taylor said. "From our spectacular landscapes to the award-winning team here at Weta Workshop -- an epic drama that can showcase everything from conceptual design through to manufacturing; utilizing all the skills we have honed on our feature work."

The Joan of Arc drama marks the first project to come out of the Pukeko Pictures-FremantleMedia partnership announced earlier this year. Pukeko's Adam Fratto and Martin Baynton will also exec produce the banner's first major drama series.
"Kimberly's book pulls the veil of mythology aside and shows the real girl at the heart of this extraordinary story,” Fratto said. "We are thrilled that Craig -- a master at making history accessible, visceral and entertaining -- shares our passion for this story.

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For FremantleMedia, the Maid adaptation comes after the company recently inked Marshall Herskovitz (My So-Called Life) to develop a TV drama series inspired by Andrew Nagorski's Hitlerland as it continues its push into big-swing scripted dramas for worldwide audiences.

"Craig Pearce is sure to captivate our imaginations as he tells the intriguing stories surrounding one of history's most controversial heroines," said Jeff Tahler, senior vp acquisitions and development, global content at FremantleMedia Enterprises and Tony Optican, senior vp scripted programming at FremantleMedia North America. "The opportunity to work with one of the most talented screenwriters in Hollywood was something we could not pass up as we seek to drive FremantleMedia's creation of high-end scripted dramas into new and exciting territory."

FremantleMedia Enterprises' credits include TBS' Wedding Band and Sky Atlantic/DirecTV's Hit & Miss.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit