A&E Networks, which is enjoying a banner year thanks to the success of Duck Dynasty, Vikings and The Bible, unveiled a slate of new projects at its upfront presentation Wednesday, including a miniseries about Houdini starring Adrien Brody in the title role and reality shows about the real-life Hatfields and McCoys and stay-at-home dads.
A&E will air Modern Dads follows four stay-at-home dads (some married, some single) and the trials and tribulations they go through in their daily lives. The network has also picked up Those Who Kill, a serial killer drama based on a Danish series, produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and starring Chloe Sevigny and James D’Arcy. It will premiere in 2014.
New programming for the History Channel includes a reality series based on the real-life Hatfields and McCoys. Piggybacking on the networks’ 2012 miniseries about the feuding families, Hatfields & McCoys, the new show will track two clans as they debate going into business together.
Adrien Brody will also star as Houdini in a two-day miniseries about the escape artist. A premiere date was not announced. Another scripted miniseries, Sons of Liberty, will focus on the events surrounding the Revolutionary War.
Lifetime unveiled Hillbetties, a country music reality show about aspiring female musicians, and announced that its previously-announced miniseries Bonnie and Clyde — starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger in the title roles, as well as Holly Hunter and William Hurt — will premiere simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and The History Channel later this year.
The network also aired clips of previously-announced series Devious Maids, the new soap from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, which premieres in June, and Witches of East End, starring Jenna Dewan-Tatum and Julia Ormond, which will premiere later this year.
The deal just closed and details are scarce. We can tell you that History is developing a miniseries project (working title: Houdini) that traces the arc of the turn-of-the-20th-century master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame.
Veteran TV producer (and J.J. Abrams’ father) Gerald W. Abrams (Modern Marvels, 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out) is attached as an executive producer. Brody (King Kong, The Pianist) is attached to star in what would be a rare venture into television for the Academy Award-winning actor.
Pillagers, plunderers, and rapists, great news! Your forefathers are getting another season on History. The network has ordered a second season of Vikings, its first scripted series, after ratings propelled the program to the title of best-rated new series of the year. Yes, even better ratings than Do No Harm! Season 2 will be 10 episodes long and will likely debut in early 2014.
Vikings is a work of historical fiction that follows the burly Norsemen as they hack and slash their way through the unexplored world. Travis Fimmel stars as Ragnar Lothbrok, a young upstart with a bad haircut who wants to shake up the life of his tribe by exploring new lands. Gabriel Byrne plays Earl Heraldson, the Viking chief who’s content to plunder the same old territory. Have you been watching Season 1? What do you think so far?
New York, June 28, 2012 – HISTORY announced today additional casting for its new scripted series, VIKINGS, including Travis Fimmel (The Beast, Baytown Outlaws) as Ragnar, the first great Viking leader, a man of both history and myth; Jessalyn Gilsig (Glee, Heroes, CSI: NY, Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights,Somewhere Slow) as Siggy, Earl Haraldson’s beautiful wife; Gustaf Skarsgard (The Way Back) as Floki, a close friend of Ragnar’s who is an eccentric jokester yet an inventive, creative boat-builder; Clive Standen (Camelot, Robin Hood) as Rollo, Ragnar’s excessive, cruel cousin; and Katheryn Winnick (Stand Up Guys, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, Bones,Love and Other Drugs) as Lagertha, Ragnar’s first wife and famous shield maiden who often fights alongside him.
Johan Renck (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead) and Ken Girotti (Rescue Me, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) are set to direct multiple episodes of the series. The announcement was made by Nancy Dubuc, President and General Manager, HISTORY and Lifetime Networks.
They join previously announced Golden Globe® Award winner and Emmy® Award nominated actor Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment, Usual Suspects, Millers Crossing) who will star as Earl Haraldson, the most important local ruler in Ragnar’s district, and George Blagden (Les Miserables, Wrath of the Titans) who will play Athelstan, an Anglo-Saxon monk captured by Ragnar on his first raid on England.
VIKINGS will be a series high on adventure, exploration, conflict, warfare and bloodshed – for these were extreme times – but, at its heart, it will also be a family saga. It follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, a historical figure, and the greatest hero of his age – and the gripping sagas of Ragnar’s band of Viking brothers and his family – as he rises to become King of the Viking tribes.
Ragnar Lothbrok (Fimmel) is based upon the real-life Viking leader who literally exploded out of Scandanavia and onto the world stage in the 8th Century. A young Norwegian farmer with a wife and family, Ragnar is deeply frustrated by the unadventurous policies of his local chieftan, Earl Haraldson (Byrne), who continues to send his Vikings raiders east every summer, to the Baltic states and Russia, whose populations are as materially poor as themselves. Lagertha (Winnick) is the first wife of Ragnar’s and their marriage is a love-match. Ragnar was first attracted to Lagertha when she came to fight for a local Norwegian ruler against an invading Sweden. Floki (Skarsgard), based partly on the Norse god Loki, is an impish character and ship builder who designs and builds the prototype of the new generation of Viking ships which can sail across the open ocean but also up the shallowest of rivers. He is a design genius and he allows Ragnar to fulfill his dreams of sailing west and discovering new lands and new civilizations. Siggy (Gilsig) is Earl Haraldson’s beautiful wife and an enigmatic character. She performs her duties impeccably and with style, but she may not be completely loyal to her husband. Rollo (Standen) is Ragnar’s cousin and initially one of his closest friends, involved in his early raids. But soon becomes jealous of his fame and success.
Created and written by Michael Hirst – one of the premier historical story-tellers in the industry (Academy-Award winning film Elizabeth; and the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series The Tudors), Michael serves as Executive Producer along with Morgan O’Sullivan of World 2000 (The Count of Monte Cristo; The Tudors), John Weber of Take 5 Productions (The Tudors; The Borgias), Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn (The Tudors; The Borgias) and Sheila Hockin (The Tudors; The Borgias).
VIKINGS is an international Irish/Canadian co-production being co-produced by World 2000 and Take 5 Productions. HISTORY will broadcast domestically. MGM Television will bring VIKINGS to the global audience, serving as the international distributor outside of Ireland and Canada. VIKINGS is produced in association with Shaw Media, and the series will air on History Television in Canada. Nancy Dubuc, Dirk Hoogstra, and Julian P. Hobbs will serve as the executives on behalf of HISTORY.
The series will be filmed at Ashford Studios, a newly built studio facility in Ireland. Ireland has been home not only to such acclaimed recent TV dramas as The Tudors and Camelot, but also to treasured feature films such as Braveheart, My Left Foot, Excalibur, Barry Lyndon and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. All post production, visual effects, sound design and music composition will take place in Canada.
Travis Fimmel is managed by Management 360, agent is Paradigm and attorney is AJ Brandenstein from Sloan, Offer, Weber & Dern. Katheryn Winnick is repped by Gersh, Alchemy Entertainment and attorney Jeff Bernstein. Clive Standen is repped by Gersh and Independent Talent Group