×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Deutsche Telekom Feasts on ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Lead actress Natalie Dormer promises viewers a ‘surreal ride’

Deutsche Telekom has snagged exclusive German rights to “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” the Australian TV drama that opens this year’s Berlinale Series and that its star, Natalie Dormer, says will take “the audience on a surreal ride.”

German telco DT will run “Picnic” in six weekly installments on its EntertainTV service rather than dropping all episodes simultaneously for binge-watching. “It combines stunning images with a complex narrative and outstanding cast,” Wolfgang Elsaesser, head of DT’s TV business, said of the show. “This is part of our strategy to act as an aggregator of exclusive high-quality content in the German market.”

The series is a re-imagining of Joan Lindsay’s classic Australian novel, which is set in 1900 and tells the story of the disappearance of a group of boarding school girls during an outing. A big-screen version by Peter Weir came out in 1975.

Dormer plays headmistress Hester Appleyard, whom she called “a contradiction” – an independent woman imbued with “old, archaic Victorian values.” The “Game of Thrones” star told Variety that she was wary of appearing in a period piece, but the “Picnic” team, led by Canadian director Larysa Kondracki, won her over.

“In the back of my head I went, ‘Bloody hell, it’s too early to get back into a corset,'” Dormer said. “In certain parts of the world, I’m really associated with ‘corset drama.'” But Kondracki sent her a convincing letter outlining why no one else could play Appleyard.

“This couldn’t be further from a standard costume drama. What they’ve done is sunk into the weirdness and darkness of Joan Lindsay’s novel,” Dormer said. “I realized that [Kondraki] would do everything she could to push the envelope of reality and magical realism, and really take the audience on a surreal ride. And I realized it was something…tonally, stylistically, that I had never been involved with before.”

For FremantleMedia, the German sale is the latest for “Picnic,” which it has also sold to the BBC for the U.K. and to Amazon for the U.S. It was originally ordered by Australian pay-TV platform Foxtel for its Showcase channel.

Besides “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” Deutsche Telekom has also had exclusive rights to such North American dramas as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Better Things,” and “Cardinal,” and European production “Valkyrien.” The telco is joining the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Sky Deutschland in competing for high-quality drama. It is also moving into originals, with Franco-German comedy “Germanized” (known in France as “Deutsch-Les Landes”) as its maiden effort.

“Today, 60% of all Germans watch series regularly,” Elsaesser said. “We meet the needs of our growing number of EntertainTV customers by offering a platform that pools the most popular shows – national and international productions.”

Maximilian Bolenius, senior vice president of German-speaking Europe and Israel for FremantleMedia International, added: “We are very impressed by the content strategy, exposure and marketing opportunities that Deutsche Telekom provides with EntertainTV and believe it is the ideal launch platform for this creatively extraordinary series in Germany.”

More TV

  • 'Dead To Me,' 'Why Women Kill'

    From 'Dead To Me' to 'Why Women Kill,' Angry Women are Getting Their Due on TV

    Angry women, this is your time. At least on TV. From such classic sitcoms as “The Honeymooners” to more modern multicams including “Everybody Loves Raymond,” lead female characters were more often than not portrayed as foils or just general counterpoints to their husbands. Sometimes this was portrayed through hysterical antics; more commonly it was through [...]

  • Melina Matsoukas AFI Franklin J Schaffner

    'Queen and Slim' Director Melina Matsoukas Inks First-Look Deal at FX

    Director Melina Matsoukas has signed a first-look deal with FX Productions. Under the deal, Matsoukas will develop new content for FX Networks. She recently directed the pilot for the upcoming FX series “Y,” based on the graphic novel series “Y: The Last Man.” Matsoukas will also serve as an executive producer on the series. Her [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Pose

    How The Golden Globes Celebrate Cinematic Television (Column)

    When Martin Scorsese complains that a Marvel movie isn’t cinema, he’s not wrong. But his critique of the commercialism undergirding those movies is expressed in the language and tone of an old crank defending a fading novelty from some darned, degenerate kids. It’s not that the theatrical movie-going experience (so sacred!) is going away anytime [...]

  • Runaways -- "Big Shot" -- Episode

    'Runaways' to End After Season 3 on Hulu

    The live-action Marvel series “Runaways” is ending with its upcoming season on Hulu, Variety has learned. The show, which is based on the Marvel comics series of the same name, is set to debut its third season on Dec. 13. That season will now serve as the show’s finale. According to an individual close to the [...]

  • Florence Pugh and Beanie Feldstein

    Beanie Feldstein on Her Next Role as Monica Lewinsky in 'American Crime Story'

    Beanie Feldstein recently signed on to portray Monica Lewinsky in “Impeachment: American Crime Story” — a role she called “daunting” — but the “Booksmart” actress may be more excited about the fact she gets to co-star opposite Sarah Paulson. Feldstein gushed about the opportunity to work with Paulson to “Little Women’s” Florence Pugh during their [...]

  • Servant Executive Producer/Writer and Creator of

    'Servant' Boss Breaks Down Apple TV Plus Collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan

    Tony Basgallop’s latest television venture is a tense family drama with a twist. In Apple TV Plus’ “Servant,” married couple Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) experience a trauma with their newborn, but rather than deal with it head-on, they use a reborn doll (a realistic baby doll that they treat like a living, [...]

  • 60 Minutes" reporter Lara Logan takes

    Lara Logan Will Host Fox Nation Documentary Series

    Lara Logan made a name for herself by reporting from global trouble spots for CBS News. Soon, she will be holding forth on a four-part docuseries for Fox Nation, the Fox News streaming-video service. Logan is expected to present “No Agenda,” which will debut in January on Fox Nation, and is produced by Warm Springs [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content