With AMC’s series order for the pilot formerly titled “The Killing,” the cabler has accelerated its transformation from all-movie channel to home of edgy original dramas.
“Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” have set the stage for skeins such as the new conspiracy thriller “Rubicon” and the forthcoming “The Walking Dead,” from exec producers Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd.
The cabler’s latest series pickup is based on the Danish skein “Forbrydelsen” and tells the story of the murder of a young girl and the subsequent police investigation. Veena Sud, formerly an exec producer and showrunner on CBS’ “Cold Case,” will write and exec produce.
Untitled skein will be produced by Fox Television Studios and Fuse Entertainment. Mikkel Bondesen will exec produce with Sud. Cabler has ordered 13 hourlong episodes, and production is set to begin in Vancouver in the fall. Series will debut in 2011.
Mireille Enos, who co-starred last season in HBO’s “Big Love,” is set to topline the cast as the detective investigating the girl’s death. Co-starring are Billy Campbell, Michelle Forbes, Joel Kinnaman and Brent Sexton. Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to an Oscar for the 2003 pic “Monster,” helmed the pilot.
New series will mark the first time AMC is picking up a format. Original Danish series — shot as two 10-episode seasons, with more forthcoming — was compelling from first viewing, said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s senior VP of original programming and production.
“Hands down it was the most addictive piece of series TV I’ve ever watched,” Stillerman told Daily Variety. “The way the crime story is handled structurally, as well as how cliffhangers are crafted, we found it completely addictive. It’s one of those shows that you could end up watching an episode at three o’clock in the morning and then want to watch one more.”
Cabler recently announced that “Breaking Bad,” which normally begins each season in March, would not debut its fourth season until next summer and would miss next year’s Emmy eligibility period. For the upcoming Emmys, Bryan Cranston is vying for his third top drama actor statuette, and the show was nominated for drama series as well.
“We thought it was best for the creative execution of the show and to allow the most people to see it,” said Stillerman, explaining that the net believes more viewers will watch the show in summer compared to spring, when “Breaking Bad” is in competition with original scripted programming on the broadcast nets. “Also, Vince (Gilligan) will get some additional time to write and be on set.”
While critical reception has always been terrific for “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” “Rubicon” has received strong but not stellar reviews. Also, AMC is one of the few cablers to still compete in the miniseries arena against HBO. Net launched six-parter “The Prisoner” — a co-production with British net ITV that starred Ian McKellen — in November.
Stillerman said it isn’t the net’s mantra to up its original quotient in order to compete with basic cabler FX or pay nets HBO or Showtime, but he felt the quality of the material it has viewed in the recent past was a fortuitous way to brand AMC and too good to let it slip away to a competitor.
“I don’t think volume is part of our equation,” he explained. “We’ve been very blessed the last couple of years to come across some incredible material, and for us, it’s about taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.”