America to remake Underbelly

Just when you think you've heard it all...

Just when you think you’ve heard it all…

America is planning to remake Underbelly.

And no they won’t be bringing Al Pacino to Melbourne to re-do the series. They will be hunting for American gangs to which they can apply the format.

Bizarre stuff… .but a win for Screentime nonetheless.

The US version is due to screen on Starz, the Pay TV network which is screening Spartacus and will co-produce Torchwood.

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, is a former HBO chief whose in-house team developed The Sopranos, Sex and the City, The Wire and Six Feet Under.

NY Magazine notes, “Assuming the right real-life inspiration can be found quickly, a script could be ready well before the end of the year. If Albrecht likes what he sees on the page, insiders say he’s prepared to eschew the usual pilot stage for Underbelly, and go straight to series.”

The Aussie series has been airing on US satellite service DirecTV which even kicked off with A Tale of Two Cities, just to run it chronologically. One US reviewer said of it, “That series, winner of both Logie (low-brow) and Australian Film Institute (high-brow) awards for best television drama, has told stories of dealers, police officers and politicians covering the late 1970s to about 2004,” it notes. “The show has been compared to The Sopranos, but based on the first few episodes of A Tale of Two Cities it’s more like Traffic with copious nudity.”

Next up: Channel Nine to remake Rome and set it in Broadmeadows?

Source: NYMag

25 Responses

  1. i think this will do well in america seeing its from a premium cable network and not from a broadcast or basic cable channel and premium cable network like starz as we all know with shows like Spartacus Blood and Sand that they can make great shows with little money, like like SHO and HBO does, thank god for american premium cable networks like HBO, SHOWTIME and one thats just making a real change for the better ‘starz’, they all make the best shows even if they are not what most american family’s what in primetime

  2. When the US remake a foreign series it’s usually dreadful, but given the appalling quality of the original material in this case maybe they’ll make something half decent out of it. But given that they have already made the crime drama that sets the bar nowadays, The Wire, why would they even bother? Just because it’s “True Crime” doesn’t make it good, as Underbelly demonstrates in spades.

  3. Underbelly is a great, generic franchise crime title. Crime drama taken from the front page is now a genre of its own and the Americans may take the time, money and intelligence required to realise the full potential of the Underbelly franchise, which has not lived up to its potential here at all. Indecent haste and desperate greed have just turned it into a tits and bums fest. Only season 1 aspired to anything like the operatic storytelling of, say, the Sopranos, or the Dickesian complexity of The Wire. So there!

  4. PD… Maybe the australian producers sold the concept under the franchise in the US, by a US network to do an American version. Not a network going, we should make series on real crime.

    I don’t see how anyone can say this is a bad thing. It’s just expanding a franchise. It aint remaking the stories. It’s new seasons, new stories, new settings under the “Underbelly” franchise name.

  5. This is so strange. Why do they need to buy the rights to Underbelly in order to tell an American crime tale?

    They don’t want the story, they don’t want the actors, they don’t want the writers, the directors. Presumably they don’t want the theme tune, or the catering guys, or the sound engineers. It won’t even be set in the same hemisphere as the original. Do they really just want the title?

  6. Someone BBBA they do it for publicity. The licensing costs they’ll need to pay will be very small compared to the value of the publicity they receive. You wouldn’t be reading this article if it was a completely new show.

  7. Why would you pay for the format rights to this when you could just research a real-life crime and make a show about it for free? (I know there are plenty of reasons – all based on selling an already popular “format” – but seriously…)

  8. That’s not *really* a remake, it sounds more like they’re just taking a very general concept and applying it to American gang life. They’re not taking Carl Williams and making him American or anything, so I don’t really see a problem.

  9. It’s a good idea for things based on any real Mafia and non Mafia US crooks and gangs, but it’d only work on a US premium cable network, where there’s freer use of uncensored language, sex and violence.

  10. I don’t understand why US networks choose to “remake” shows that could be made independently from the so-called original. All shows are influenced by others, it doesn’t mean you have to give it the same name and branding.

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