At the Sundance Channel's Executive Roundtable this afternoon, plans were discussed for the stations programming in 2006 through 2008. The following information contains the programming announcements that were made.

Sundance Channel Executive Vice President, Programming & Marketing, Laura Michalchyshyn announced today that the network has greenlit two new original series, which will premiere in 2007, Maha Productions' Sin City Law and Pleasure For Sale by the Gantz Brothers. These two series, together with Nimrod Nation, Festival Dailies and future series to be announced, round out the line up of originals, acquired series, and exclusive documentaries and features that will debut on Sundance Channel in 2007.   

Sin City Law is an eight-part documentary series currently filming in Las Vegas.  The series follows the intense rivalry between the pro-death penalty District Attorney and an ex-prosecutor turned public defender, through the attorneys who serve both offices. Sin City Law is produced by Peabody and Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Denis Poncet and Jean-Xavier De Lestrade and ("The Staircase," Murder on a Sunday Morning) and is slated to premiere in the second half of 2007.

The series Pleasure for Sale takes an unflinching look at the political, religious, and economic realities of prostitution by chronicling the inner workings of a legal brothel in Pahrump, Nevada. The social dynamics of the working girls and the political and religious controversies that arise from the community's efforts to shut down the brothel create a candid and engaging portrait of the world's oldest profession. The six-part series is created by Joe and Harry Gantz ("Taxicab Confessions," Sex with Strangers).

Other 2007 originals include the reprise of Festival Dailies, a daily program produced onsite at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah which provides TV viewers with an immediate and local sense of the Sundance Film Festival experience.    

Also debuting in 2007 is Nimrod Nation an original eight-part documentary series that will provide a glimpse into the idiosyncratic world surrounding one town's obsession with its high school basketball team, the Nimrods. The series is conceived and executive produced by Oscar-nominated director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture; On The Ropes), and Kevin Proudfoot (Weiden + Kennedy).     

"In one year, we have increased the number of original series and one-off documentaries on Sundance Channel by 100%," said Michalchyshyn. "Together with the six or seven acquired series we plan to offer next year and the over 275 exclusive features, documentaries and shorts we will program, we are delivering against our promise that Sundance Channel will consistently offer its audience exclusive, provocative, and entertaining programming - insuring that when viewers are seeking something different on television we are there."

Sundance Channel originals set to debut in 2006 are:

House of Boateng - This eight-part documentary series follows Ozwald Boateng, the "wizard of London's Savile Row" on a high-stakes transatlantic journey as he attempts to launch his own fashion line in America. His vibrant and revolutionary cutting-edge clothing has redefined traditional menswear, and has been worn by celebrity clients including Mick Jagger, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law and Will Smith. Produced by Reveille LLC. House of Boateng premieres June 22 at 9pm e/p.

The Hill - Set in the office of Congressman Robert Wexler (Democrat, Florida), The Hill, is a six-part documentary series offering a rare glimpse into the charged world of congressional politics and into the personal and professional lives of Wexler's young, smart and driven staff. The Hill is produced by Roland Park Pictures, Inc. and directed by Ivy Meeropol, a filmmaker (Heir to An Execution) and a former Capitol Hill speechwriter and legislative aide. The Hill premieres Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 9:00pm e/p.

Iconoclasts, the second season of the series, in which a pair of two leading creative innovators from fields including film, literature, architecture, fashion, food, and music, explore one another's creative process, inspirations and passions. Iconoclasts is produced by @radical.media and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) and executive produced by Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment. Iconoclasts is scheduled to debut on October 26, 2006.

One Punk Under God, an original six-part observational documentary series on the alternative Christian minister Jay Bakker is  produced by World of Wonder. The series takes a behind-the-scenes look at the life of Bakker, son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Messner, as he faces the professional, emotional and financial struggles of running his Revolution church in Atlanta, Georgia. One Punk Under God, is scheduled to premiere on December 13, 2006.

SUNDANCE CHANNEL PRE-LICENSES TWELVE DOCUMENTARY FILMS

Titles to Premiere in Weekly DOCday Destination

Sundance Channel has pre-licensed the U.S. television rights to a dozen documentary co-productions slated to air on the network between August 2006 and 2008. The announcement was made today by Executive Vice President, Programming & Marketing, Laura Michalchyshyn. Most of these titles will debut in Sundance Channel's weekly DOCday destination that promises a premiere every Monday evening during the 12-hour weekly block devoted exclusively to documentaries.

"DOCday has become appointment television for the Sundance Channel viewer.

With 52 DOCday premiere slots to fill each year, these co-productions are consistent with the provocative and entertaining programming our viewers have come to expect" commented Michalchyshyn. "Looking out for strong documentary material in the early stages of production gives us the opportunity to be creatively involved with some great films and strengthens our relationships with directors and producers from all over the world,"

TITLES

100 Films and A Funeral - This romp through the poisonous world of high-stakes entertainment is the tale of Polygram films (Four Weddings and A Funeral, Fargo) and its founder Michael Kuhn, a rumpled Brit who challenged the Hollywood status quo as he launched a brave new wave of movie making into the 21st century. Film is directed by Michael McNamara and is produced by Judy Holm and Markham St. Films.

An Antarctic Spring - An exploration of the human experience, An Antarctic Spring focuses on the stories of three teams of scientists and the personal and emotional challenges they meet while pursuing their research in Antarctica between August and December 2006. The film is directed and produced by Emmy® Award winning filmmaker Anne Aghion (In Rwanda We Say...) and produced by Benoit Gryspeerdt.

As Seen Through These Eyes - Made up of archival and contemporary interviews with survivors, As Seen Through These Eyes tells the story of child Holocaust victims through the artwork they created. Directed by Hilary Helstein. Produced by Jerry Offsay, Michael Jacobs, and Irv Weintraub.

Carny - Alison Murray's Carny takes a look at the romance and exoticism as well as the seamy and sad underbelly of life in a traveling carnival over the course of a season on the road.   

Dust to Dust: The Health Effects of 9/11 - Many of the heroes of 9/11 are becoming seriously ill (with some illnesses leading to death) because of their work in the toxic atmosphere of lower Manhattan. In Dust to Dust, we learn of their life threatening illnesses and their struggle to comprehend how misinformation from the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House lulled them into a false sense of security. Produced by CBS News Productions.

Flipping Out - Each year, 50,000 soldiers are discharged from the Israeli army after 3 years of service. About 30,000 of them find their way to India and the Far East and, of these, 90 percent will experiment with drugs, with about 2,000 reaching a psychotic state that will require them to be institutionalized. Filmmaker Yoav Shamir (Five Days) sets out on an odyssey that begins in Goa and ends in Kfar Izun, a psychiatric institute dedicated to the rehabilitation of Israeli backpackers. Produced by Philippa Kowarsky; Flipping Out is a co-production of the ITVS International Media Development Fund.

Godless in America - Leslie Woodhead's Godless in America follows the ongoing struggles of American Atheists to be heard, as they take their case to politicians in Washington and to people across America. They claim that despite the clamor of the Christian conservatives, there are 30 million non-believers in America, determined to fight back against what they see as the current power of religious fundamentalism in every area of public life.

Guest of Cindy Sherman - With unprecedented access, Guest of Cindy Sherman places us in the intimate company of the renowned visual artist, Cindy Sherman. Paul H-O, an artist-turned-opinionated host/creator of the public-access series GalleryBeat, chronicles the life of the elusive Sherman through a combination of rare verité footage of Sherman herself and anecdotes by friends, associates and family. Directed Tom Donahue and Paul Hasegawa-Overacker. Produced by Tom Donahue and Anura Idupuganti. Executive produced by Paul Hasegawa-Overacker.

Kike Like Me - Filmmaker Jamie Kastner's off-the-cuff, verité-style film, Kike Like Me is a darkly comic road movie about what it means to be Jewish and who gets to choose the definition itself. In the end, Kastner's journey in Kike Like Me becomes a universal personal exploration - funny and frightening, quirky and surprising - of identities, images, and the mystery of tribal definition.

The Man Who Could Be King - Directors Tambre Leign and Mark Johnston tell the story of Adongo Akway Cham, the King of the Anuyaks tribe in Southern Sudan who returns to Africa from exile in Toronto to assume his throne only to then relocate his family to Canada for reasons of safety. Torn between his duties to his country and his family, the film follows Adongo over the course of six years and explores a country at war and the life a new King.

Naked on the Inside - Director Kim Farrant's Naked on the Inside follows six people from around the world as they create a series of portraits, both clothed and nude, creating permanent records of how they want to be seen, known, and remembered. The film explores issues of who are we beyond our physical identities and the ways in which the "nude" comes to life, expressing itself without censors before the camera. Co-production with Showtime Networks Inc.

Saving Jazz - Slated to premiere on August 29 as part of Sundance Channel's recognition of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this documentary directed by Leslie Woodhead follows legendary New Orleans' photographer Herman Leonard's efforts to recover his archive of photos in the wake of Katrina. Saving Jazz documents his return to New Orleans after the hurricane and his initial attempts to rebuild his life's work in the context of the city's revitalization efforts. The film features some of Leonard's legendary subjects, including New Orleans native Wynton Marsalis as well as Tony Bennett, Sonny Rollins, and Max Roach. Saving Jazz is a co-production with the BBC.

SUNDANCE CHANNEL TO PREMIERE AWARD-WINNING AUSTRALIAN COMEDY MOCKUMENTARY SERIES "THE NOMINEES" ON SEPTEMBER 5, 2006

Limited Series Created By And Starring Comedian Chris Lilley Follows Fictitious Nominees For "Australian of the Year"

Sundance Channel will present the U.S. television premiere of the award-winning Australian comedy series The Nominees, a mockumentary about the public obsession with heroes, role models and high-achievers, on Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at 9:00pm e/p. The series' subsequent five episodes will premiere on consecutive Tuesdays at 9:00pm e/p, with encores throughout the week. The Nominees was created, written and co-produced by rising Australian comedian Chris Lilley, who portrays all the principal characters. It was produced by Laura Waters for Princess Pictures and directed by Matthew Saville.

Filmed in a documentary style, The Nominees is a deadpan comedy that purports to follow the daily lives of five very special individuals who are among the thousands of citizens nominated for the prestigious title of "Australian of the Year," an actual honor bestowed annually on Australia Day. As portrayed by Chris Lilley, the five nominees hail from different parts of the country and represent the full spectrum of Australian society: young and old, male and female, urban and rural; native and emigrant. 

They include: 23-year-old Chinese physics genius Ricky Wong, a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne; David Olivetti, a 38-year-old policeman and Brisbane family man who rescued nine children in a freak accident involving an inflatable castle; 16-year-old Ja'mie King, an ultra-popular Sydney schoolgirl who sponsors 85 Sudanese children; 17-year-old South Australian farm boy Daniel Sims, who has volunteered for a revolutionary operation to help his hearing-impaired twin brother, Nathan; and Perth native Pat Mullins, a 47-year-old wife and mother of two who has overcome her physical handicap to become a champion athlete. Their bravery, tenacity and talent have inspired their families, friends, colleagues and communities (and, in a few cases, themselves) - but do the nominees have the right stuff to be "Australian of the Year"?  

Chris Lilley began his career as a stand-up comic in Sydney, where he honed his talents as a character writer/performer. He joined the casts of the Australian sketch comedy television series "Big Bite" and "Hamish and Andy," earning a nationwide following for his regular characters Extreme Darren, a teenage extreme sports enthusiast, and Mr. G., a deluded high school drama teacher. Lilley made his first solo outing with The Nominees (which aired as "We Can Be Heroes" in Australia), a critical hit that went on to win the 2006 Logie Award (the Australian equivalent of the Emmy) for Outstanding Comedy Program; Lilley himself was awarded Best New Talent. 

Producer Laura Waters has worked with many of Australia's best-loved comedians, including Gina Riley and Jane Turner on Season 3 of "Kath and Kim." She recently founded the production company Princess Pictures, which has produced the sketch series "Eagle & Evans," as well as the The Nominees. The company is currently developing a slate of comedy series and two feature films. Director Matthew Saville is an award-winning filmmaker whose short films include Roy Höllsdotter Live, which received two AFI (Australian Film Institute) nominations and was awarded Best Original Script for Television by the Australian Writers Guild, among other honors.  Saville's television credits include directing the sketch comedy shows "skitHouse" and "Big Bite" and the drama series "The Secret Life of Us."

The episode lineup for The Nominees is as follows:

Tuesday, September 5th at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 1. We meet the five nominees and hear the stories behind their candidacies for "Australian of the Year." Irrepressible PhD candidate Ricky Wong juggles his groundbreaking solar energy work with his deepening involvement in the university's Chinese Musical Theatre Group. Having left the police force, "jumping castle hero" Phil Olivetti makes plans for a new career based on his national fame.

Multi-tasking private school student Ja'mie King explains how her charity work fits into her life. Housewife and cancer survivor Pat Mullins, who suffered a developmental disorder that left her with legs of different lengths, demonstrates the athletic prowess that enabled her to roll on her side from Perth to Fremantle. Daniel Sims, who is about to make medical history as the world's first eardrum donor, discusses what the operation will mean for him and his brother Nathan. 

 

Tuesday, September 12th at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 2. Phil pursues public appearance opportunities while enjoying his new life at home with the kids. Ja'mie hosts a sleepover party for her best girlfriends. Pat and her devoted husband/trainer Terry begin planning for her most ambitious roll yet. Daniel spends a day with his friends in the town of Dunt, where Nathan amuses himself with his favorite antisocial activities. Despite his parents' disapproval, Ricky tries out for the lead role in the Chinese Musical Theatre Group's original musical about the history of Australia's aborigines, "Indigeridoo."  .

Tuesday, September 19th at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 3. Phil lands his first motivational speaking engagement, but his demonstration of rescue techniques doesn't go as planned.  Ja'mie steps outside her comfort zone to visit one of her sponsor children, Sonali, in a detention center. Ricky's rehearsal schedule for "Indigeridoo" begins to compromise his PhD work. Daniel has his first experience with the print media when a magazine journalist interviews him at the family farm. Terry constructs a custom training course simulating the topographical conditions on Pat's upcoming roll. 

 

Tuesday, September 26th at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 4. Ja'mie entertains a school assembly with her flashy presentation about the charity organization that matches her with Sudanese children. Phil meets one of the judges on the selection committee for "Australian of the Year." The eardrum transplant is a success, but Daniel's post surgery adjustment gets off to a rocky start. The Chinese Musical Theatre Group makes some changes to "Indigeridoo" and Ricky makes a major decision about his future. Pat and Terry devise a strategy to cope with a newly discovered danger on her projected rolling route. 

Tuesday, October 3rd at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 5. The preliminary judging is over, and the nominees are about to learn whether or not they will continue on to the next stage of the competition. Phil reminisces about his father as he waits for the call, and Ricky gets word on the opening night of "Indigeridoo." Ja'mie goes into crisis mode after receiving news about her village in Sudan. Pat and Terry prepare to leave home for her big roll and enjoy a farewell party with friends. Daniel sulks over a perceived slight, while Nathan revels in his newly restored hearing. 

 

Tuesday, October 10th at 9:00pm e/p

Episode 6. The five nominees and their families travel to the nation's capital, Canberra, for the gala ceremony revealing the finalists for "Australian of Year." Ricky arrives with his proud parents and siblings, and is excited to meet one of the real-life characters from "Indigeridoo." Daniel keeps an eye out for girls, and Ja'mie poses for pictures with Sonali, sprung from detention for the occasion. Pat and Terry make an elegant appearance, but Phil and his family encounter problems at the door. Three months later, the "Australian of the Year" is announced on nationwide television.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs