Tag Archives: Carnival Row

Carnival atmosphere

As Carnival Row premieres on Amazon Prime Video, stars Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne discuss the importance of the noir fantasy thriller’s message and unravel their characters’ complexities.

With a hefty budget and established stars like Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne topping the bill, Carnival Row would have fit the criteria for a blockbuster Hollywood hit had it been released five years ago. So the fact that it’s actually the latest original series from Amazon once again highlights streamers’ increasingly tight grip over the content industry.

Nonetheless, the show’s London premiere this week was a relatively discreet affair, hidden away at the Ham Yard Hotel on the edge of London’s Piccadilly Circus, with just a poster of the show propped up beside a stairwell next to the reception letting any passers-by know what was taking place. Diners sitting at the hotel’s adjoining restaurant wouldn’t be to blame if they were unaware the show’s high-profile cast would be enjoying champagne downstairs later in the evening.

For Carnival Row, Amazon Prime has teamed up with Legendary Studios to bring to life a story written 20 years ago by creator Travis Beacham. The show presents the audience with a bleak Victorian fantasy world that resembles a steampunk mash-up of Oliver Twist and Warner Bros’ recent Sherlock Holmes film franchise.

Carnival Row takes its name from the bustling street at the centre of the action

The drama explores a world in which humans and mythical creatures coexist, yet with a palpable level of racism and division that bares striking similarities to issues apparent in contemporary society. Years of war have displaced many Fae (fairies) and Pucks – Minotaur-type hoofed creatures – and sent them seeking refuge in predominantly human-inhabited territories. In turn, this has led to a recurring series of targeted Fae murders and landed Bloom’s character, troubled detective Rycroft Philostrate, with the job of catching the killer. Delevingne portrays his former lover, a fairy called Vignette Stonemoss.

“I think people are scared to have this conversation because people want to be ignorant about how many people are struggling in this world right now,” Delevingne (Suicide Squad) says, highlighting the importance of themes touched on in the series. “I’m actually so glad that [the show] is episodic because I think with something that is this important, especially with the social commentary, the love story and the crime aspect, it’s a lot to digest. After each episode ends, you can have a conversation about it.”

The series is set in the bustling port town of Burgue and revolves around what takes place on one of the city’s busiest streets. Picture the famous Harry Potter side street Diagon Alley, add a Waterloo Station rush-hour crowd, toss in a number of top hats and mythical creatures and blanket it all in a cloud of smog. The result is Carnival Row, part red-light district, part flea market.

Model-turned-actor Cara Delevingne plays a fairy in the Amazon original series

“It smelt just like it looked, there was so much detail,” Bloom says. “That’s the kind of level of detail you want as an actor.”

For her role as Vignette, a refugee fairy-turned-housemaid, Delevingne adopts an Irish accent, which she believes came naturally to the flying character. “I think just making her Irish made it more fun. Well, I don’t know – it just made sense to me,” she says. “The way Irish people speak is so beautiful and lyrical; it seemed to go so well with that type of character.”

Beyond the accent, Delevingne says the script appealed to her because “there was more depth and more emotion than I’ve ever seen out of any character I’ve ever read. I was so in fear of it but also so fascinated by that character and I knew if I hadn’t got it [the part], I would have been thinking about it probably until this day.”

Meanwhile, Bloom (The Lord of the Rings) does away with his natural Received Pronunciation English and dons a husky Danny Dyer-like cockney accent, perhaps in hope of giving his character – known as Philo – the necessary street cred to survive the Row and earn the fear and respect of its locals and frequenters. Like Delevingne, Bloom was drawn to the depth of his character.

Orlando Bloom’s Philo is charged with investigating a series of murders of Fae (fairies)

“I was intrigued by Philo, this man who was born an orphan, raised in an orphanage, then served in the military and went on to be a police detective. I thought about being raised in institutions and what that would do to the psyche of a man,” he explains.

“He has this secret and I think it is something that gives him a super power, which is that he is empathetic and a man who is trying to do the right thing. You know, in this day and age, actually just doing the right thing is heroic enough.”

Carnival Row was shot on location in Prague, which Delevingne describes as “a brilliant place” to recreate the show’s fantasy world. The cast ventured into the Czech mountains as well as a 600-year-old church for additional shooting.

In addition to tackling themes of racism and societal division, Delevingne says the series also offers valuable parallels between the Fae’s struggles and those of women today.

“The part that really spoke to me a lot was when the fairies had their wings strapped down, because that’s kind of how women were treated for so long,” she says. “Because you’re told you can’t move your body in so many ways, it’s a complete restriction. So that commentary on women and being the second-class citizen for so long was also really beautiful and clever.”

Delevingne and Bloom pose at this week’s London screening of Carnival Row

Though reviews series of the series have been lukewarm, Amazon has already commissioned a second season of Carnival Row, with the production returning to Prague to begin filming next month.

Bloom seems excited at the prospect: “I think the world-building is just growing and getting better, and honestly I think the first season is always going to be finding its feet. From what I’ve read for season two, it’s really exciting, and we’ve got an amazing cast of actors.”

Delevingne puts it more plainly: “Something about it sparked a fire inside of me, I suppose.”

The cast and production team behind Carnival Row will be crossing their fingers that the show causes the same instant reaction within viewers as it did with Delevingne, with the bizarre creatures of this noir world promising to take viewers deeper into the Row in season two.

tagged in: , , , , ,

Netflix plays Chandra’s Games in India

Vikram Chandra
Vikram Chandra is adapting his novel Sacred Games for Netflix

Hot on the heels of Amazon’s announcement of its content origination plans in Japan, Netflix has revealed a new scripted project in India.

Sacred Games is based on Vikram Chandra’s acclaimed novel of the same name. The author, who will also write the adaptation, said: “Over the last few years, I’ve watched with great excitement and pleasure as Netflix has transformed narrative television with its ground-breaking, genre-bending shows. I’m confident all the colour, vitality and music of the fictional world I’ve lived with for so long will come fully alive on the large-scale canvas provided by Netflix. I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix and Phantom Films (the show’s production company).”

The show is set in Mumbai against a backdrop of crime, political corruption, and espionage. Seven years in the making, it centres on Inspector Sartaj Singh, one of the few Sikhs on the Mumbai police force. The story pits Singh against Ganesh Gaitonde, the most wanted gangster in India. Shot on location in India, the series will be a hybrid Hindi-English production. It will be available to Netflix members globally upon completion.

Now 55 years old, Chandra was born in New Delhi and has a number of novels to his name, including the award-winning Red Earth and Pouring Rain, which has been published in territories such as the UK and US.

Commenting on the opportunity to work with Chandra, Madhu Mantena of Phantom Films said: “We are very happy to start this journey with Netflix by producing Vikram’s outstanding story. And we are confident we will create some exciting and groundbreaking television content from here on.”

Erik Barmack, VP of international original series at Netflix, added: “We are delighted to partner with creative powerhouse Phantom Films to bring Vikram Chandra’s epic novel to life with the best Indian and global film talent available today. Sacred Games reinforces our commitment to bring the authenticity of local stories to Netflix members across 190 countries worldwide.”

David Carr
The late New York Times columnist David Carr, whose memoir is being made into a series by AMC and Sony Pictures Television

Other high-profile stories this week include AMC and Sony Pictures Television’s decision to develop a six-part miniseries based on The Night of the Gun, the memoir by late New York Times columnist David Carr.

Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) will play Carr while Eileen Myers is attached as an executive producer and writer. Myers has several high-profile credits, including Mad Dogs, Masters of Sex, Last Resort, Hung, Big Love and Dark Blue.

For those unfamiliar with Carr’s memoir, it is an acclaimed depiction of his battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction. As an active figure in the US media business, he is credited with having kick-started the career of Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls.

Elsewhere, CBS has given a straight-to-series order to Ransom, a new hostage negotiator series created by David Vainola and Frank Spotnitz (The Man in the High Castle). The show has been set up as an international coproduction, with France’s TF1 and Canada’s Global also signed up for the 13-parter. Also on board is global content distributor Entertainment One (eOne).

The series will star Luke Roberts as Eric Beaumont, an expert crisis and hostage negotiator who resolves difficult kidnap and ransom cases. The show is inspired by the experiences of crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert, one of the top negotiators in the world.

Spotnitz said: “The world of crisis negotiation is incredibly compelling, as demonstrated by the fascinating real-life cases Laurent Combalbert has negotiated. Laurent has inspired a brilliant and complex character, and you can’t help but be moved seeing all the lives he’s saved around the world.”

James Wood
Evelyn Waugh novel Decline and Fall is being adapted by James Wood

Amazon continues to be busy – picking up a number of new scripted pilots. Among them is Carnival Row, a supernatural series from Guillermo Del Toro, Travis Beacham and Rene Echeverria. A coproduction between Amazon Studios and Legendary TV, the show is based on a feature-film script created by Beacham 11 years ago. Since then, he has established himself as a leading action-adventure movie screenwriter with titles like Clash of the Titans and Pacific Rim (on which he worked with Del Toro).

Another Amazon pilot continues the current fascination with Cuba now that the country is opening up to the international market. Called Tropicana, it is set in the world of the Tropicana nightclub against the backdrop of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Written/executive produced by Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz and executive produced by Andrea Simon, the series will feature all the usual suspects including the mafia, the CIA, Batista loyalists and Castro revolutionaries. Goldin and Abramowitz previously worked together on Klondike, while Goldin’s solo credits include Darkman.

Interesting projects bubbling up in the UK include a BBC2 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s superb novel Decline and Fall. With comedian Jack Whitehall already installed as the lead of the three-part miniseries, there are reports that Eva Longoria is in negotiations to co-star.

The adaptation is being handled by James Wood, who came to fame with BBC comedy Rev. Set in the 1920s, Decline and Fall follows student Paul Pennyfeather, who is unfairly expelled from Oxford University and ends up teaching at a boys school in Wales.

Still in the UK, FremantleMedia has announced that it is backing a new scripted indie to be headed by feted producer Laurence Bowen. Called Dancing Ledge, the company is setting up new offices in Notting Hill with projects from some of the UK’s most talented writers and a development deal with The Hobbit star Martin Freeman.

Laurence Bowen
Laurence Bowen has set up Dancing Ledge

According to Fremantle, the new Dancing Ledge slate includes a dozen projects for UK and US broadcasters including dramas by Mark Gatiss, Guy Hibbert, Chris Lunt, Dan Sefton, and John Donnelly, as well as a new limited event-series development commission for History written by Simon Block (Home Fires). Bowen is also developing several scripted ideas with Martin Freeman.

Commenting on the new company’s excellent writer relationships, Bowen said: “Dancing Ledge is only ever going to be as good as the writers it works with and we are lucky enough to already be working with some of the very best in the UK.”

Finally, Canadian broadcaster CityTV has greenlit some dramas. Bad Blood: The Vito Rizzuto Story, will debut on City and FX in the US in 2017 and is inspired by the life and death of mobster Rizzuto. New Metric Media, Sphere Media and DHX Media will produce the series, based on the book Business or Blood: Mafia Boss Vito Rizzuto’s Last War – co-authored by Toronto Star reporter Peter Edwards and Antonio Nicaso.

Another commission is Second Jen, a coming-of-age comedy about two second-generation Chinese and Filipino-Canadian millennials and best friends. Created by and starring Samantha Wan and Amanda Joy, the show will be produced by Don Ferguson Productions and premiere on Citytv.com in the autumn.

tagged in: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,