‘Scrublands’: Luke Arnold, Bella Heathcote & Jay Ryan To Lead Stan And Nine Network Drama Series Based On Chris Hammer Novel
EXCLUSIVE: Luke Arnold, Bella Heathcote and Jay Ryan are set to lead Scrublands, a TV adaptation of Chris Hammer’s novel for Australian streamer Stan.
We’ve learned production in underway in Victoria, Australia on the crime series, which is a co-commission of the Nine Network and its streamer Stan. Easy Tiger, which optioned rights to the story back in 2018, is producing in association with VicScreen.
Scrublands is set in isolated country town Riversend brought to its knees by endless drought, where a charismatic and dedicated young priest (Jay Ryan) calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners. A year later, investigative journalist Martin Scarsden (Luke Arnold) arrives to write what should be a simple feature story on the anniversary of the tragedy but when his instincts kick in and he digs beneath the surface, the previously accepted narrative begins to fall apart and he finds himself in a life and death race to uncover the truth.
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Zane Ciarma (Neighbours), Adam Zwar (Squinters), Victoria Thaine (Nowhere Boys), Robert Taylor (The Newsreader), Stacy Clausen (True Spirit), Genevieve Morris (No Activity) and newcomer Ella Ferris have also been cast.
Greg McLean is directing and Felicity Packard, Kelsey Munro and Jock Serong are writing. East Tiger’s Ian Collie and Rob Gibson, David Redman and Packard are producing and Michael Healy and Andy Ryan from the Nine Network and Cailah Scobie and Amanda Duthie from Stan are executive producers.
Jack Irish and Rake maker Easy Tiger is leading production and UK-based distributor Abacus Media Rights is handling international sales.
The series marks the second co-commission between Nine Network and Stan, following on from Bali 2002, which explored how everyday heroes from Bali, Australia and elsewhere defied the odds of the devastating tsunami to bring order and hope.
“Following the immense success of Bali 2002, Stan is delighted to once again co-commission with the Nine Network. Scrublands promises to be a powerful and compulsive crime thriller. A remarkable crime series set in Australia’s unforgiving and harsh landscape, Easy Tiger has secured an outstanding core cast in Luke Arnold, Bella Heathcote and Jay Ryan and we look forward to collaborating with them on Scrublands.”
“Joining forces with the teams at Stan and Easy Tiger on Scrublands has realised an ambition we have had since Chris Hammer’s novel was published in 2018,” said Nine Director of Television Micheal Healy. “We are confident the creative team led by director Greg McLean and lead writer Felicity Packard will adapt Scrublands into a must-watch television drama for a global audience.”
Easy Tiger founder Ian Collie and CEO Rob Gibson added that “from the moment we opened Chris Hammer’s ripping page-turner, we knew Scrublands was destined to be a must-watch crime series.”
Abacus is headed into the London TV Screenings this week, and its founder and Managing Director Jonathan Ford said: “Once again Stan has co-commissioned an ambitious and engaging thriller which we are delighted to be taking to the international market after its Australian launch. Not only does Scrublands have all the ingredients that make for a winning drama – a great script, relatable characters and a strong cast – due to the fact that it’s based on a best-selling crime thriller novel the Scrublands franchise is already well known around the world and we can’t wait to offer this series to our clients.”
Luke Arnold is represented by Lisa Mann Creative Management and The Gersh Agency. Bella Heathcote is repped by Brian Medavoy at More/Medavoy Management and Joanna Milosz at JM Agency. Jay Ryan is repped by IMC and UTA.
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