Sundance Channel starts scripted programming

Slate includes projects from John Malkovich, Tony To

NEW YORK -- Sundance Channel is entering the scripted-series arena with a slate of four projects in development from such auspices as John Malkovich and Tony To.

Following sister network AMC into original programming, the network will kick off its foray into original scripted programming in the fall with three-part French miniseries "Carlos," about terrorist Carlos the Jackal, which the channel acquired in November.

The channel's brass screened scenes from the mini starring Edgar Ramirez ("Che") and directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas ("Summer Hours") on Tuesday in New York.

In unveiling Sundance Channel's 2010 lineup and development slate, executive vp and general manager Sarah Barnett said the channel will focus on original shows, characters and stories that are "addictive, urgent and timely" and wants to be as adventurous as the Sundance festival is in film.

The goal is to present "a rebooted arts channel that makes noise" with flair and fun, Barnett said. "Sundance is creating a reinvented arts and entertainment destination showcasing talented innovators, tastemakers and trend-setters from the worlds of fashion, design and politics and featuring them in a way that is accessible, relevant and lots of fun to watch."

Sundance's drama series in development include "Triple Crossing," a geopolitical crime drama produced by Malkovich's Mr. Mudd that's set in a lawless South American city; "The Clinic," a suspense thriller about a medical researcher pushing the boundaries of human testing that is set in the near future and produced by To ("Band of Brothers") and written by John Harrison ("Dune") and Michael Duggan ("Law & Order"); the novel adaptation "Fear of Flying," about a poet and the men she has loved; and "Shutterbabe," about the adventures of a globetrotting female photojournalist.

Barnett also showcased Sundance's 2010 new nonfiction series offerings: "Be Good, Johnny Weir," featuring the controversial ice skater, which premiered in January, and "Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys," which starts shooting this week for an August premiere. The show puts the spotlight on women, their best male friends who are gay and the relationship between them.

For 2011, Sundance is planning the return of the Forest Whitaker-produced documentary series "Brick City" and three new design-themed docuseries: "Teman & Teran," about Harvard-educated identical twins Teman and Teran Evans who are designers and architects; "Made on Earth," about industrial designer Stephen Burks, who learns native techniques in remote villages around the world; and "Design Intervention With Brian Collins," which will see the branding guru tackle branding and design problems faced by famous companies.

Sundance's new fashion series in development for 2011 are "Fashion Icons," about designers and their muses; "Agent of Fashion," from Magical Elves ("Project Runway"), about fashion designer scout Brian Stark; and "All on the Line" and "Fashion Fix," about designers whose fashion lines are not working or in crisis.

Evan Shapiro, president of Cablevision Systems-owned IFC and Sundance Channel, said that his two channels under Cablevision Systems' Rainbow networks unit will expand into new genres and platforms. "We feel we have made them complementary partners," he said.

IFC is expected to announce its slate in the coming weeks.