Tag Archives: Gone

All Gone

Chris Noth, Leven Rambin and Danny Pino explain why US crime procedural Gone stands out from the crowd – and recall filming a tough fight sequence between two of the leading trio.

Chris Noth in action in Gone, in which he stars as FBI agent Frank Booth

Gone tells the fictional story of Kit ‘Kick’ Lannigan, the survivor of a famous child abduction case, who is recruited by Frank Booth, the FBI agent who rescued her, to join a special task force dedicated to solving abductions and missing persons cases. Commissioned by Germany’s RTL and TF1 in France, it is produced by NBCUniversal International Studios and distributed by NBCUniversal International Distribution. It has also been acquired by US cable channel WGN America. 

Chris Noth, who plays Booth: Every law enforcement show has its own unique and distinct voice and this one is a bit more disturbing. To be an FBI agent in this unique way takes a certain mindset and it also articulates who Frank is. At the beginning of the series we haven’t gotten into each character’s total history yet but there’s a side of Frank that drives him to this kind of work. As we evolve, I hope we’ll get more into that. I really liked the way all the characters’ pasts are interlaced so that each episode articulates that.

Danny Pino (former Army intelligence officer John Bishop): Gone is really about character. When we’re talking about differentiating procedural cop dramas, Law & Order does a very good job of thrusting the case to the forefront. But what attracted me to Gone was the backstory, certainly with Bishop. That onion is peeled very slowly, and you find it’s then reflected in the case. We’re able to bring some of that baggage so the case isn’t stale or dry. It’s not just something we’re going through rudimentarily to fulfil our occupation. This is something very personal to the characters – certainly it is for Kick from the very beginning. When I read the pilot, I knew Bishop was going to reflect that rawness effectively and I thought this was something I was interested in exploring.

Leven Rambin (Lannigan): I saw this as a 1,000% hardcore black drama because I went crazy in my actor mind. I worked with a real-life survivor – she’s just normal, you wouldn’t know that she’s been tortured and gagged and the things that were done to her. Once I met her, you need to add in that she’s just a normal girl living life. And Kick has a good personality as well. Moments of lightness are really important. Those progress more as the show goes on, which I’m really happy about, because at the start I was like, ‘Let’s make it really dark all the time,’ but that’s not appealing to anyone.

Leven Rambin as Kit ‘Kick’ Lannigan

Bishop and Kick are introduced in episode one when he visits her gym looking for self-defence lessons, leading to a fight sequence between the pair that ends when Frank enters and reveals Bishop’s real intention was to test Kick’s skills before he and Frank recruit her to their new task force.

Pino: We rehearsed that a couple of weeks before we actually started shooting. We started rehearsing in LA and the trainers were teaching us how to fight for the camera. Then we showed up two weeks before production in Pittsburgh. We were doing pure choreography, which Leven picked up in a heartbeat. She was ready to fight. Then I pretended I was ready, but I really wasn’t.
We shot each episode in seven days, which is one day fewer than most procedural cop drama episodes take. And when you add action to it, it’s very challenging so we had a very truncated time to shoot in. The director, John Terlesky, said, ‘Now we need to get this [fight scene] in about two hours,’ and he was looking at his watch. I said, ‘Let’s break it up,’ but he said, ‘No, let’s just run it.’ And we ran the entire fight the first time we filmed it. I think Leven punched me three times, and I managed to graze her as well. We ended up running the entire fight five or six times and our stunt doubles just stood there. They did a throw but, at the end of the day, the editors came up to us and said they only used 2% from the stunt doubles, so most of that fight is just us swinging at each other and kicking at each other. That was really fun. And that’s different for a procedural cop drama to have that much action.

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US studios extend int’l footprint

Gone is a 12-part series adapted from Chelsea Cain’s novel One Kick
Gone is a 12-part series adapted from Chelsea Cain’s novel One Kick

About two years ago, the international scripted TV business started to express its concern that there was a shortage of US procedural dramas coming on to the market. With the trend towards limited series and increased emphasis on superhero/sci-fi, buyers in markets like France and Germany feared a gap.

A number of companies said they would address the shortfall, including NBCUniversal International Studios (NBCUIS), which formed a partnership with RTL (Germany) and TF1 (France) with the intention of creating US-style procedural dramas. This week, they delivered on their promise by greenlighting Gone, a 12-part series based on Chelsea Cain’s novel One Kick.

Gone, which will be broadcast in late 2017/early 2018, tells the story of Kit Lannigan, survivor of a child abduction case and Frank Booth, the FBI agent who rescued her. Determined never to fall victim again, Kick trains in martial arts and the use of firearms.

She finds her calling when Booth persuades her to join a task force dedicated to solving abductions and missing persons cases. Paired with former army intelligence officer John Bishop, Kick brings her unique understanding of the mind of a predator to the team.

Gone will be executive produced by Matt Lopez, JoAnn Alfano and Sara Colleton. All episodes will be written, cast and produced in the US.

Hilary Bevan Jones
Hilary Bevan Jones

RTL and TF1 will broadcast and distribute the series in their territories (German and French respectively) and NBCUniversal International Distribution will license rights for the US and the rest of the world on behalf of the partnership.

Michael Edelstein, president of NBCUIS, said: “We are all delighted to be moving forward so quickly on our first series. In Gone, Matt Lopez has created a fascinating character who we believe will connect with procedural audiences around the world. We are assembling a first-rate production team and look forward to future series with our partners.”

Fabrice Bailly, head of programmes and acquisition TF1 Group, said: “The collaborative relationship represents a new way of working, for both studios and European broadcasters, to achieve high-quality procedural dramas.”

Joerg Graf, exec VP of production and acquisition at RTL Deutschland, added: “TF1 and NBCUniversal International Studios share our view that tailor-made formats will meet the need of our viewers for high-quality crime dramas.”

While the project is a welcome development, one point of interest is that Gone’s 12-episode run is still shorter than a standard US procedural. The first season of Fox’s Lethal Weapon, for example, is 18 episodes, while ABC’s Quantico has received 22-episode orders in seasons one and two. So a 12-episode order still leaves open a questions over the volume of new procedural episodes such cross-border alliances can bring to market.

Crackle original Chosen has aired for four seasons
Crackle original Chosen has aired for four seasons

Another interesting story this week is the announcement that Fox Networks Group (FNG) Europe and Africa has commissioned its first original drama in the region. While it isn’t a procedural like Gone, it does illustrate the increasing level of US studio engagement in the international market (in our last column, we also reported how HBO Europe is increasing its slate of original dramas).

Called The Nine, the new FNG show is created by Matthew Parkhill and Simon Maxwell (American Odyssey) and produced by Hilary Bevan Jones (Close To The Enemy, State of Play). An eight-hour drama, it tells the story of an ex-spy “who is brought back into the game to avenge the death of his son, only to find himself at the heart of a covert intelligence war and a conspiracy to profit from spreading chaos throughout the Middle East.”

Maxwell and Parkhill said: “We wanted to tell a story set against the backdrop of our dangerous and uncertain times. The Nine unfolds through the eyes of a man caught between two versions of himself, the past and the present. The genre of an espionage thriller gives us the perfect opportunity to mix his personal story with the turbulence of an ever-changing geo-political landscape.”

UK indie Big Talk Productions is rebooting1970s sci-fi series Sapphire & Steel
UK indie Big Talk Productions is rebooting1970s sci-fi series Sapphire & Steel

The project was commissioned by Jeff Ford, senior VP of content development, and Sara Johnson, VP scripted drama for FNG, Europe and Africa, and will go into pre-production in the new year.

“Following the success we’ve had with our Fox global content, we made a commitment to develop drama for this region that has the potential to be a success worldwide,” said Ford.

Another story that showcases the increasing international clout of the US studios’ production operations is the news that Sony Pictures Television (SPT)’s on-demand platform Crackle has joined forces with Chinese streaming service iQIYI on a three-part Mandarin-language drama. The partners will create a new version of Chosen, a Crackle original that has aired for four seasons.

SPT’s Playmaker Media is producing with support from Screen NSW and the show will be shot entirely in Australia. Production begins in the spring with a launch due at the end of 2017.

The Ritual Bath is the first book in the Decker-Lazarus series
The Ritual Bath is the first book in the Decker-Lazarus series

The past week has also seen a number of production and development announcements flowing out of C21’s Content London event. For example, ITV Studios-owned indie Big Talk Productions confirmed that it is remaking sci-fi series Sapphire & Steel, with Luther creator Neil Cross attached to the project.

Also, screenwriter/director Tony Grisoni revealed that he is developing a drama set against the 1943 Allied liberation of Sicily, with UK broadcaster Channel 4 paying for script development.

In the US, meanwhile, Thunderbird Entertainment has teamed up with David Salzman (Dallas) to develop a TV series based on Faye Kellerman’s Decker-Lazarus series of mystery novels.

The initial development process will focus on The Ritual Bath, the first book in the Decker-Lazarus series. The story follows a tough LAPD detective and a widowed mother of two who witnesses a brutal crime and becomes embroiled in solving it.

Nickelodeon has greenlit a third season of School of Rock, based on the Jack Black movie
Nickelodeon has greenlit a third season of School of Rock, based on the Jack Black movie

Also in the US, Nickelodeon has greenlit a third season of School of Rock, a tween/teen series based on the 2003 cult movie of the same name. Originally ordered straight-to-series, the show was given a rapid second season order of 13 episodes and has been attracting an average of around 1.4 million viewers.

The third season, which will go into production in 2017, will have 20 episodes, suggesting Nickelodeon is very happy with the show. School of Rock was the first series order for Paramount TV and is the first to go to a third season. The studio has also enjoyed success with Epix show Berlin Station and USA Network’s Shooter.

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