via press release:
SUNDANCE CHANNEL GREENLIGHTS NEXT ORIGINAL SCRIPTED SERIES
“THE DESCENDANTS” (WORKING TITLE)
NETWORK BOSLTERS SCRIPTED PROGRAMMING TEAM AND HIRES FIRST LA-BASED DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE
New York, NY, March 11, 2013 – In advance of its upcoming premieres of originals Rectify and Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel announced today the greenlight of new series The Descendants (wt) and the expansion of its scripted programming team. The network’s second wholly owned original scripted series is picked up for six one-hour episodes and hails from acclaimed writer Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband, Prisoners) and veteran producer Sarah Condon ().
Fortifying its scripted programming team and following the appointment of its new Head of Programming and Development Nena Rodrigue, Sundance Channel also announced the appointment of Christian Vesper as Senior Vice President of Scripted Development and Current, and Jordan Helman as Director, Scripted Development and Current. Helman is based in Los Angeles and reports to Vesper. Vesper, who is based in New York, reports to Rodrigue.
Sarah Barnett, Sundance Channel President and General Manager, stated, “At Sundance Channel, we are passionately dedicated to the creation of non-formulaic, daring original stories and we are delighted with this outstanding new addition to our scripted slate.” She continued, “Christian’s new position is richly deserved—he has been doing a fantastic job as the network has ramped up its scripted efforts, most notably by developing this new project and shepherding the upcoming Rectify and Top of the Lake from development to completion.”
The Descendants (wt) is a hard-hitting drama that revolves around a sheriff struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains, home of the Ramapo Mountain Indians. After a terrible tragedy and coverup occurs involving the sheriff's wife, an unholy alliance is forged between the sheriff and a dangerous member of the tribe that will come back to haunt all involved.
Writer Aaron Guzikowski penned the pilot script, and created the series with veteran producer Sarah Condon. Guzikowski’s feature Prisoners is currently in production and stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Melissa Leo. He is repped by Verve and Madhouse Entertainment. Most recently, Sarah Condon served as Executive Producer on HBO’s. Previously, Condon was Senior Vice President of Original Programming at HBO. She was responsible for developing and supervising production for the network and was the executive in charge of Sex and the City, , , Extras and Flight of the Conchords.
In his new role, Christian Vesper’s responsibilities include sourcing and developing original scripted projects for the network. Vesper collaborated with Barnett on the launch of Sundance Channel's scripted programming initiative and oversaw development and current on Sundance Channel’s first wholly owned original series “Rectify,” premiering April 22. As a ten-year veteran of Sundance Channel, he has played key roles in the acquisitions and development of the network’s original mini-series including Golden Globe winning “Carlos,” and critically acclaimed “Appropriate Adult” and “Restless.” Vesper also served as the network executive producer on the highly anticipated Jane Campion mini-series, “Top of the Lake,” premiering March 18. Prior to overseeing development at Sundance Channel, Vesper oversaw acquisitions for Sundance Channel for seven years. In addition, Vesper served as a Director of Programming at HBO and early in his career as Director of Business and Legal Affairs at October Films. Vesper is a graduate of UC Berkeley and University of Michigan law school.
Jordan Helman is the Director of Scripted Development and Current at Sundance Channel, and currently serves as the sole west coast creative executive at the network. In Helman’s new role, he will support Christian Vesper in the sourcing and development of new original scripted projects. Prior to Sundance Channel, Helman was a producer and development executive at Landscape Entertainment where he produced the SyFy pilot THREE INCHES, and developed and sold cable series to networks including HBO, AMC, TNT, USA, A&E, Lifetime, SyFy, and Comedy Central through a first-look deal with FremantleMedia. Jordan began his career in the mailroom of Endeavor, where he was promoted within the agency's Longform Department. He is a graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
Today’s news follows the recent appointment of Nena Rodrigue as Senior Vice President of Original Production and Development. Based in New York, Rodrigue is responsible for developing and overseeing Sundance Channel’s growing slate of original productions, both scripted and unscripted, and reports to Sarah Barnett, president and general manager of Sundance Channel.
Rodrigue stated, “Christian and Jordan have done a terrific job building Sundance Channel’s original scripted production and development slates and I am thrilled to work with them on The Descendants and more as we expand and elevate the network’s scripted endeavors.”