LOS ANGELES — Is Sundance Channel hoping to push into AMC and HBO territory? The cable network is bringing movie director Jane Campion to the small screen for a six-part miniseries starring Elisabeth Moss, as part of its ongoing move into scripted drama.
In “Top of the Lake,” Moss will take a quick break from her role as Peggy on “Mad Men” to play a detective on the case of a missing girl. The miniseries will air on BBC 2 in Britain. Campion (“The Piano,” “Portrait of a Lady”) will direct with Australian director Garth Davis, and write with Gerard Lee. Holly Hunter, David Wenham (“The Lord of the Rings,” “Australia”) and Peter Mullan (“War Horse,” “Trainspotting”) will star along with Moss. The miniseries is scheduled to start shooting in February in Queenstown, New Zealand.
“Top of the Lake” comes in the wake of “Carlos,” Sundance’s first scripted drama, which nabbed two Emmy nominations.
The network has greenlighted a number of other scripted programs for the coming year, starting with the Dec. 10 premiere of “Appropriate Adult.” Based on a real-life story, the movie features Dominic West (of “The Wire” and “The Hour”) as British serial killer Frederick West, who committed horrifying acts with his wife, Rosemary, during the 1960s and ‘70s. Emily Watson (“Breaking the Waves”) plays Janet Leach, a woman appointed by the court as an “appropriate adult” to look after his interests during police questioning — with no idea of what she was getting herself into.
Earlier this week, Sundance also announced an original scripted six-part drama, “Rectify,” created by Academy Award winner Ray McKinnon (“The Accountant”). Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein of production company Gran Via will serve as executive producers along with McKinnon; they also produce “Breaking Bad” on AMC, Sundance’s sister channel. The series centers on a man being released after 19 years on Georgia’s death row, having been convicted for the rape and killing of a teenage girl.
Sarah Barnett, the general manager and executive vice president of Sundance Channel, said the new shows “reinforce Sundance Channel’s commitment to creating high-quality scripted programming and becoming a home for projects defined by risk-taking and character-driven storytelling. All of our scripted programs have attracted top talent in front of and behind the camera, and we are excited to enter the scripted arena with incredible partners who share our vision of telling distinctive and fresh stories.”