Guy Pearce and Jacqueline McKenzie.

Guy Pearce and Jacqueline McKenzie are attached to star in Alantown, a six-part black comedy set in a cult-like community.

Pearce will play Alan Pepper, the group’s leader who is convinced he is Jesus in the series created and written by Marie Patane.

McKenzie will play Colleen, Alan’s devoted partner who claims to be the reincarnation of Mary Magdalene and believes she and Alan were meant to be together in this lifetime.

Unbeknownst to the group and Alan, Colleen had left her angry husband Bob and teenage daughter Paisley behind in the outside world.

As Bob and Paisley turn up at the compound looking for answers, Colleen is cast aside for a mysterious woman whom Alan believes to be the ‘actual’ reincarnation of Mary Magdalene. Colleen leaves the compound with a broken heart and a plan for revenge.

The producers, Patane’s Planet Mars Productions, Rodrigo Vidal Dawson of Blackfisch and Alex Alexander of 412 Entertainment, have drawn up a short list of directors.

Matt Cameron, whose writing credits include Stan’s Bloom and The Commons, Foxtel/Netflix’s Secret City and Secret City: Under the Eagle, the ABC’s Jack Irish series and Pearce’s upcoming movie Poor Boy, has come on board as script supervisor.

Escapade Media’s Natalie Lawley, who will distribute the series worldwide, is pitching the project to all the Australian networks. The producers have already raised 60 per cent of the budget from private investors.

The plan is to start shooting in the Adelaide Hills town of Mount Magnificent (co-incidentally the home of a doomsday cult some years ago) in the first half of next year.

It is the first TV comedy/drama venture for Patane, a former Nine Network journalist, Today Show regular and co-host of Entertainment Tonight, who has written and directed several short films and short travel documentaries.

It’s also the first in that genre for 412 Entertainment, which specializes in branded TV series, web series, ads and internal business videos.

She first got the idea eight years ago when a friend with whom she had gone to university joined a cult-like group and disappeared off the face of the earth. She discussed the concept with Pearce, who was intrigued with playing the role of the cult leader. Dawson invited McKenzie to come on board two years ago.

“The idea of people seeking out leaders and a community where they think they will be accepted and find unconditional love is even more relevant now,” Patane tells IF. “The daily life and rituals of communal living have a lot of comedy elements and also drama.

“Guy isn’t known for comedy but he has a quirky, offbeat sense of humour. The ultimate aim of Alantown is to make the audience laugh, feel and think in equal measure.”

Pearce said: “I’m thrilled at the idea of playing the reluctant cult leader in Alantown. Anyone who believes they are the reincarnation of someone prominent like Jesus Christ is quite hilarious to me.”

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