AMC and BBC Worldwide North America team up for McMafia
AMC and BBC Worldwide North America announced today a new co-production deal for McMafia, an epic drama series set in the international world of organized crime starring James Norton (Happy Valley, War & Peace) as the lead character, Alex Godman. Co-produced by AMC, BBC and Cuba Pictures (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Coalition, London Road, Boy A), in association with Twickenham Studios, McMafia is created and written by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and film director Hossein Amini (Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman) and James Watkins (The Woman in Black, Bastille Day) — who will be directing all eight episodes — and is inspired by Misha Glenny’s 2008 best-selling book of the same name. Production has begun in London.
McMafia charts Godman’s (James Norton) journey as he is drawn deeper and deeper into the criminal world.
The series has lined up an all-star international cast including David Strathairn as Semiyon Kleiman, a well-connected Israeli businessman with a twinkle in his eye that betrays deeper secrets. Juliet Rylance portrays Rebecca Harper, Alex’s strong-willed and morally upright British girlfriend, Aleksey Serebryakov will play Dimitri, Alex’s father and the exiled head of the Russian mafia. Maria Shukshina has been cast as Oksana, Alex’s socialite mother, and Faye Marsay rounds out the cast in the role of Katya, Alex’s sister.
Godman (Norton) is the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia history, who has spent his life trying to escape the shadow of that criminal past, building his own legitimate business and forging a life with his girlfriend Rebecca. But when his family’s past murderously returns to threaten them, Alex is drawn into the criminal world and forced to confront his values to protect those he loves.
“McMafia is simply one of those shows that comes along at exactly the right moment,” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “Misha Glenny’s book reminds us that underneath the headlines of today what we used to think of as organized crime is something completely different. It’s a global operation, with tentacles in every corner of our world. The creative team behind McMafia has brilliantly used the essence of this source material to write a compelling and relevant piece of television. This is a superbly talented cast, led by James Norton and we are excited to watch them bring to life these complex and multi-dimensional characters. We are also thrilled to be in partnership with the BBC, and Cuba Pictures, on this epic drama.”
“McMafia shares the ambition and sophistication of The Godfather, now for TV audiences,” states Matt Forde, EVP Content Production, Sales and Distribution, BBC Worldwide North America. “The fusion between AMC and BBC – two names synonymous with quality and Cuba Pictures, one of the hottest indies in the UK – is sure to deliver a first class crime thriller on a massive scale.”
Nick Marston, CEO, Cuba Pictures, says: “It is tremendously exciting to be producing this series and working with great partners, the BBC, AMC and BBC Worldwide. We want to make a show which can stand out from the crowd for its originality, character depth and contemporary resonance. Luckily, Hossein Amini, James Watkins and the top-class writing team, inspired by Misha Glenny’s ground-breaking book, have delivered scripts of the first order. With James Watkins directing the whole series and James Norton heading a perfect cast, we couldn’t be in better hands to realize the immense promise of this show.”
McMafia charts Alex’s journey through a terrifying labyrinth of international criminals, money launderers, corrupt politicians and ruthless intelligence agencies. He soon finds himself embroiled in an underworld that stretches from London to Moscow, Dubai to Mumbai, Africa to the Americas, a battleground where Mexican cocaine cartels compete with Pakistani drug lords, Balkan smugglers and the Russian Mafia itself. What starts out as a story of survival and revenge becomes an epic tale of a man’s struggle against the lures of corruption in the modern world and in himself.
A fast-paced thriller that is epic and intimate, glamorous and gritty, global in scale and forensic in detail, it delves into how, with the rise of globalization, the corporate has become criminal and the criminal corporate, and how, driven by the global demand for cheap products, everyone is complicit in some way.
The writing team, led by Amini and Watkins, includes David Farr (The Night Manager, Spooks, Troy – Fall of a City), Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Wallander, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), and Laurence Coriat (Wonderland, Me Without You).
McMafia is a co-production by the BBC, AMC and Cuba Pictures in association with Twickenham Studios, distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide. It is executively produced by Nick Marston, Dixie Linder, Ben Hall, and Robyn Slovo for Cuba Pictures, Matthew Read for BBC One and Hossein Amini, James Watkins and Misha Glenny. Paul Ritchie is producing.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)