Sky Pushes Envelope as It Aims for a Global Mob Hit

Murdoch’s paybox continues its bold TV tactics with Italy’s ultra-gritty 'Gomorrah'

Almost three years after the announcement that Matteo Garrone’s gritty Mafia film “Gomorrah” would become a TV series, cameras are rolling, marking the boldest programming effort yet from Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia paybox.

The skein is aimed at global audiences, as Italians step up their rare efforts to export TV shows. More important, “Gomorrah” marks Sky pushing the envelope, once again, on TV content.

Since Sky ventured into Italo TV production about five years ago with “Crime Novel,” about the Rome mob, it has consistently been upping the ante. Besides “Gomorrah,” it also has 1992 in production, a Milan-set skein about Italy’s so-called Clean Hands corruption scandals.

“Sky set out several years ago to make a new type of TV product that was missing on the Italian TV market. Now it’s seeing that these shows can also travel widely,” says Sky exec vice president Andrea Scrosati.

On a more frivolous but equally radical note, Sky Italia will soon launch a local reality show toplining porn icon Rocco Siffredi, who will help middle-aged couples spruce up their sex lives.

Many considered “Gomorrah” to be the most realistic Mafia movie ever made, and the series aims for the same level of veracity in its depiction of the Neapolitan mob and its crimes.

“Gomorrah” is set in Naples and its hinterland, an area with the highest density of killings in Europe, due to turf wars between rival clans of the Camorra, the local mob.

“We chose a narrative structure that allows us to tell the story of two warring Camorra families through a different point of view in each segment,” explains showrunner Stefano Sollima, speaking on the set of a shootout scene at a dope house.

Some of the 12 episodes are told through the eyes of the boss; others from the perspective of his hit men, or of his wife, or of their son and heir to the criminal kingdom.

Sollima, who helmed Sky’s widely exported “Crime Novel,” is directing six “Gomorrah” episodes, with helmer Claudio Cupellini (“A Quiet Life”) and Francesca Comencini (“A Special Day”) attached for three each.

Author Roberto Saviano, who wrote the bestselling expose that Garrone made into a movie, oversaw the script for the TV adaptation, which Sollima describes as “more dramatic, more post-modern and more pop, even visually,” than the pic, but just as rooted in reality.

The intricate mob saga is being co-produced by Sky, Cattleya, Domenico Procacci’s Fandango and Germany’s Beta Films, which is selling “Gomorrah” internationally and will unveil it with fanfare at Mipcom in October.

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