Miranda Otto, Jesse Spence and Guy Pearce are among the high-profile stars featuring on Disney+’s debut slate in Australia and New Zealand.
Announced at an event at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the 2022/23 slate comprises three dramas, four documentaries and two lifestyle/general factual entertainment series. Several are for Disney+’s adult vertical Star.
On the scripted drama front, The Clearing is adapted from JP Pomare’s novel ‘In the Clearing’ and is inspired by Australian cult The Family and its founder Anne Hamilton-Byrne, one of the few female cult leaders in history.
Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches), Miranda Otto (The Usual Suspects) and Guy Pearce (Jack Irish) lead the cast, alongside the lies of Hazem Shammas (Safe Harbour), Mark Coles-Smith (Mystery Road), Tom Budge (Bloom).
Written and created by Matt Cameron (Jack Irish) and Elise McCredie (Stateless) alongside co-writer Osamah Sami (Ali’s Wedding), it comes from Wood Horse’s Jude Troy (The Other Guy) in association with Egeria.
McCredie, Cameron, Troy and director Jeffrey Walker (Young Rock) serve as executive producers alongside Wooden Horse’s Richard Finlayson and Egeria’s Elizabeth Bradley. Filming will take place in Victoria in the coming months. Gracie Otto (The Other Guy) is also a director.
The Artful Dodger is billed as a “premium character drama set in 1850s Australia,” set 15 years after the events of Oliver Twist. The eight-episode series follows the adult double life of Charles Dickens’ famous prince of thieves – Dodger – now a surgeon, but who can’t shake his predilection for crime.
Sony is co-producing with Beach Road Pictures and Curio Pictures (formerly Playmaker Media) (with Jo Porter). Jeffrey Walker (Young Rock) serves as director and the series is written by Andrew Knight, James McNamara, Jeffrey Walker, Vivienne Walshe and Miranda Tapsell.
Last Days of the Space Age is an eight-part dramedy series set in 1979 Perth in Western Australia, as a power strike threatens to plunge the region into darkness, while the city hosts the iconic Miss Universe pageant and the US space station, Against this backdrop, three families in a tight-knit coastal community find their marriages, friendships, and futures put to the test.
Princess Pictures is producing, with Bharat Nalluri (Shantaram, The 100) directing. David Chidlow (Moving On) is writer and creator, along with writers Alice Addison (The Silence), Dot West (The Heights), and Jeremy Nguyen and Alan Nguyen (Hungry Ghosts).
The cast includes Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Olympus Has Fallen), Jesse Spencer (Chicago Fire, House, Uptown Girl), Deborah Mailman (Total Control) and Linh-Dan Pham (Or de Lui)
Laura Waters (Summer Heights High), Emma Fitzsimons, Chris Loveall (Fortitude), Stephanie Swedlove and Anna Dokoza (Kevin Can F**k Himself) serve as executive producers and Christine Pham is producing the series. Filming locations include Perth and Sydney.
The trio of docs are Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW, about women’s Australian rules football and from JAM TV Australia; Matildas: The World at Our Feet, a docu-series about the Australian women’s soccer team from Barking Mad Production and Station 10 Media (with Fremantle and Boardwalk Pictures lending services); Shipwreck Hunters Australia, from VAM Media and Terra Australis Productions in association with Barking Mad Productions; and surf series Chasing Waves, from Boardwalk.
The lifestyle shows are four-part food series Donna Hay Christmas from Donna Hay Productions and What’s Your Toy Story, a competition series from Australian TV legend Rove McManus being developed with Guesswork Television and Roving Enterprises.
“The Walt Disney Company is making a significant investment in Australian and New Zealand local commissions,” said Kylie Watson-Wheeler, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand. “Our second wave of local and loved content is taking great shape, with many more shows in various stages of development, including fabulous original concepts coming out of New Zealand. The opportunities are endless, particularly in young adult, comedy, and rom coms, which our audiences can’t get enough of.”