Following “The Name of the Rose”(pictured) and “Devils,” France’s Orange has unveiled four internationally-driven series projects as part of its commitment to step into premium original shows with its film/TV division Orange Studio and pay TV group OCS both of board.
Currently in development, the social western “Cheyenne & Lola,” the dance-filled workplace drama “The Opera,” the French army series “Les Sentinelles” and English-language cyber-thriller “Unpunished” have been added to the company’s rising drama slate.
“Unpunished” is an ambitious series which is being developed with the writers and creators Coline Aubert (“The Returned”) and Fredrik Agetoft (“Arne Dahl: Eye in the Sky”) and the critically-acclaimed Argentine helmer Alex Garcia Lopez, whose credits include “The Punisher” and “Dardevil.”
A European co-production, “Unpunished” is being produced by Sydney Gallonde (“No Second Chance”) and Marc Nowak at Paris-based Make It Happen Studio, as well as Laurent Boissel and Emmanuelle Guilbart at About Premium Content, and Ole Søndberg (“Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” “Wallander”) at Denmark’s Sweet Chili Fiction.
The series follows David Dimauro, a young and highly successful CEO of an internet company whose life spirals out of control because an A.I. virus which he created himself in an idealistic attempt to make society more transparent. The virus, which is the first of its kind, discloses dirty, intimate secrets pulled from people’s social accounts to their acquaintances — leading to an international crisis. The suspenseful series is meant to have a visual style in the veins of “Ex-Machina,” and action-packed scenes à la “Jason Bourne” or “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo.” The series will be set throughout Europe as the story will unfold between Paris, Brussels, Berlin and across Scandinavia.
“‘Unpunished’ is a spy series and a crime thriller which is both grounded in reality and well-documented — the producers and authors have been working with cyber-security experts on the development,” said Thomas Triboit, head of the drama department at Orange Studio.
A writers room will soon begin on “Unpunished.” The series is being co-repped internationally by About Premium Content and Orange Studio.
Boris Duchesnay, the head of programs at OCS, said the company aimed at giving creators and producers the necessary freedom and editorial independence to allow them to come up with original concepts and ideas; an approach inspired by the model which has worked well at OCS where a number of half-hour series, including “Missions” have thrived.
“Cheyenne & Lola” was created and is being written by Virginie Brac, the driving force behind the long-running popular French crime series “Spiral.” “Cheyenne &Lola” follows two penniless and eccentric women who work on ferries between France and Great Britain and decide to band together as they face criminals, cops, bosses, ex-husbands and lovers. While they move up the ladder and start imposing their own rules, they are also helping migrants travel.
“Cheyenne & Lola” is being produced by Christine de Bourbon Busset and Marc Missionnier for Lincoln TV (“Mental”). Dutch helmer Eshref Reybrouck will be directing the show which will star Veerle Baetens (“Alabama Monroe”).
“We got lured by ‘Cheyenne & Lola’ because it has a social dimension, endearing kickass female characters in the veins of ‘Thelma & Louise’ and an Anglo-Saxon tone which is so rare in French series,” said Triboit, who added that the series’s visual style is reminiscent to a western. “Stylistically-speaking it will be a singular series, and it has the social themes of a Ken Loach film and the offbeat humour of ‘Fargo’ (the series). It’s full of contrasts — both shiny and dark,” said Triboit.
Triboit and Duchesnay said they were also enthused by the fact that the show will be driven by strong female characters.
“L’Opera” follows a 35 year-old world-renown ballet dancer on the decline who is on the verge of being pushed out of the Opera and sets off to get a second chance. Through her journey towards redemption, she befriends Flora, a 19 year-old black dancer who has joined the Opera and only has a few months to prove herself. The third protagonist of the series is Sebastien, the new flamboyant and ambitious director of dance, who is 38 years old and is eager to elevate the profile of the Opera on the international scene.
“L’Opera” is being produced by Florence Levard at Victoria Production, a subsidiary of Telfrance. The series is being written by Cécile Ducrocq (“The Bureau,” “Call My Agent!”) and Benjamin Adam.
Although it’s a series, “L’Opera” was described by Duchesnay as a boxing movie. “Our character is a dancer who embarks on an journey to reclaim her status and seeks redemption,” said Duchesnay. “The series will also shed light on the real world of the Opera which can be though. The protagonists will fight to make the Opera a more diverse environment and open up minds.” Because it’s set at the Opera Garnier, the series will undoubtedly have an international appeal. “The ambition is to make a spectacular show,” said Triboit.
“Les Sentinelles” follows a group of young soldiers of the French army who fall into a trap while on a mission in a dangerous African region. An homage to cult series like “Generation kill” and “Band of Brothers,” Les Sentinelles dives into the world of soldiers from a realistic, yet dramatic perspective.
“Les Sentinelles” will be a character-driver genre series exploring the psyche of the soldiers as well as the cultural and sociological stakes raised by the war, explained Duchesnay. Triboit said the series will also portray today’s youths, their values and their conceptions of religious faiths.
The series is being produced by Emmanuel Daucé and Antoine Szymalka at Tétra Media Fiction and La Pépinière, whose credits include “Un village Français” and the u pcoming “Vernon Subutex.” Thibault Valetoux (“Profilage”) and Frédéric Krivine (“Un Village Francais”) are writing “Les Sentinelles.”
Back in 2017, OCS and Orange committed to jointly invest $114 million over the next five years in original series to create a synergy and combine resources on high-profile series.