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Amazon has found its Big Little Lies.
The streaming giant has handed out a straight-to-series order for The Expatriates, based on Janice Y.K. Lee’s book and from executive producer Nicole Kidman. The news was announced Saturday during Jennifer Salke’s first appearance as head of Amazon Studios at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
Based on Lee’s book about a group of close-knit women expatriates in Hong Kong, Australian scribe Alice Bell (The Beautiful Lie, The Slap) will pen the script for the series. An episode count and premiere date were not immediately available. The drama is the first to stem from Amazon’s first-look film and TV deal the retailer/streamer signed with Kidman, which was announced in June as one of Salke’s first such pacts.
“The story weaves an addictive tapestry that follows a group of complex women and their lives as outsiders in Hong Kong. It’s a compelling exploration of the strength of these women as they persevere through struggles with marriage, career, parenting and unimaginable loss,” Salke said.
Kidman and Per Saari will exec produce for the former’s Blossom Films. POW Productions’ Theresa Park will also exec produce. Author Lee will be credited as a consulting producer.
“I’m so thrilled about the Blossom-Amazon collaboration. The Expatriates is just the beginning of our shared goal in making delicious stories with something meaningful to say about the world,” Kidman said.
The series marks Kidman’s latest TV foray. In addition to starring and exec producing HBO’s Big Little Lies (which will return for season two in 2019), Kidman is teaming with Big Little Lies partners Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea to adapt Liane Moriarty’s Truly Madly Guilty into a limited series. She is also reteaming with Big Little Lies showrunner David E. Kelley for HBO’s straight-to-series limited series The Undoing, which is set to go into production in 2019 and in which she will star. More recently, Kidman announced that she will star in and produce Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers, to which Blossom Films and Papandrea’s Made Up Stories acquired the rights for a film or TV series.
The Expatriates joins an Amazon slate that includes awards darling The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and arrives as Salke has been vocal about missing female-driven programming amid its larger push for genre fare with The Lord of the Rings. In her first interview since taking the job at Amazon, Salke told The Hollywood Reporter in June that she wanted to land the female-driven drama Little Fires Everywhere, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. That series, which featured a bidding war unlike any other, landed at rival streamer Hulu.
Here’s how Amazon describes The Expatriates: “Set against the backdrop of ‘The Vertical City’ of Hong Kong, The Expatriates is a drama series that explores the lives of a close-knit expatriate community: where affluence is celebrated, friendships are intense but knowingly temporary, and personal lives, deaths and marriages are played out publicly — then retold with glee. There’s Margaret, a world-renowned American architect struggling with the unwavering suspicion that something could be wrong with her latest project — an ambitious skyscraper already gracing the Hong Kong skyline — until an unexpected event upends her life; Mercy, a Korean-American college graduate with a questionable past seeking a new life, who quickly finds herself embroiled in an unforgivable scandal; Hilary, a British expat who yearns for a child despite her uncertain marriage, then dabbles in local customs and make-believe identities in a deliberate attempt to change her fate; Tammy, a high-flying alpha-expat who is blindsided when her husband’s Chinese second family appears on her doorstep; Barbara, whose decadent lifestyle belies a ticking clock; Franny, an Australian expat loyal to anyone she’s having lunch with, who faces an existential crisis; and Olivia, a Chinese local socialite who experiences a humiliating loss of status. This is a delicious world of unusual alliances, heartfelt truths and mystifying superstitions; a place where fortunes are made and lost, families sundered and brought together, identities made and then remade in pursuit of an extraordinary life.”
Kidman is repped by CAA.
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