The Starz Network has bought the rights to the Australian R-rated true crime drama series “Underbelly” and is planning a remake of the show for the U.S. market. The show pushed the boundaries for sex and violence on free-to-air Australian network television, and Starz is expected to keep that edge in its American incarnation.
Each season of “Underbelly” is a dramatisation of real life underworld events that took place in Sydney and Melbourne in recent decades. The first and most acclaimed season dealt with the Melbourne gangland wars from 1995 until 2004, the second with the drug trade in Sydney and Melbourne from 1976 until 1987, and the current third deals with the battle to control Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross red-light district from 1989 to 1999.
The Starz version will be reworked to focus on true American crime stories but it’s unsure what other elements of the format would be kept or which stories would be the focus. The Gotti/Gambino family saga from the 70’s to the 90’s, the Stanfa-Merlino mob wars in Philadelphia in the 1990s, the Los Angeles gang scene – there’s plenty of tales of bloody violence that could be developed with each season.
The show joins the premium-cable channel’s increasing line-up of original series including “Spartacus: Blood and Sand”, “Party Down”, “Gravity,” “Crash,” the upcoming “Camelot” and the next incarnation of British series “Torchwood”.