Meanwhile, it represents a new thrust for Sundance: more scripted productions.
This, of course, raises the question of how this sort of programming will set it apart from that offered by such networks as PBS, HBO or Sundance’s sister network AMC?
“I feel like there is a distinct space that Sundance Channel can carve out within the growing trend of tremendous scripted drama we’re seeing,” declares Sundance general manager Sarah Barnett.
Two years ago, Sundance aired the Golden Globe-winning miniseries “Carlos,” which starred Edgar Ramirez in an Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated performance as notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal. Last year, it presented “Appropriate Adult,” a riveting miniseries starring Emily Watson and Dominic West.
Coming this spring, the channel will debut “Rectify,” its first wholly owned scripted drama series. From Gran Via (the producers of AMC’s “Breaking Bad”), “Rectify” is a six-part series about a man who has served 19 years on Georgia’s Death Row before DNA evidence calls his conviction into question.
Also in 2013, Sundance will premiere “Top of the Lake,” a seven-part series written and directed by Academy Award-winning Jane Campion and starring Holly Hunter and Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”). Set in the remote mountains of New Zealand, the story follows an investigation into the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl, five months pregnant, who was last seen standing chest deep in a frozen lake.
Coming after that:
_ “Valentines” visits a high-powered New York attorney and his three attractive daughters in their luxury homes, tony social circles and stormy relationships.
_ With producers including Stanley Tucci and Steve Buscemi, “Behind the Sun” is billed as a coming-of-age tale set in the surfer world of Malibu, Calif., where a teenage boy learns he has a rare allergy to the sun.
_ “The Descendants” revolves around a sheriff policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains, home of the Ramapo Mountain Indians.
_ “T” tells the story of a transgender male who has recently undergone gender reassignment surgery and is beginning life as a man. It is produced by Ira Glass and Alisa Shipp (“This American Life”).
_ “Death in the Modern Age” tracks a down-on-his-luck suburbanite who fakes his own death so he can start life anew.
“We want to make shows that are smart, layered, morally ambiguous and complex,” says Barnett, summing up her channel’s scripted initiative. “I think we can tell stories of new worlds well on our channel. But we can also look at worlds you know, in a fresh way.”