‘Shantaram’ showrunner departs

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 06: Eric Singer attends the 2013 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Ceremony at The Edison Ballroom on January 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Eric Warren Singer.

Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content’s search for a second showrunner to work on the Apple TV+ drama Shantaram has taken on added urgency following the exit of the creator/showrunner Eric Warren Singer.

The producers called a halt to the production of the 10-part drama based on the novel by Gregory David Roberts after Justin Kurzel directed the first two episodes last year.

Filming was due to resume on Monday but the producers decided they would not be ready to shoot before the monsoon season in India while they looked to hire a second showrunner, who is yet to be appointed and will take the reins solo.

It’s unclear how many episodes had been written by Singer, a first-time showrunner whose forte is writing films such as the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick, American Hustle and Only the Brave.

Australian production executives to whom IF spoke are amazed that Apple TV gave the go-ahead to start filming a highly ambitious, 10-part international drama before it was fully scripted.

The postponement dismayed the MEAA, which said its crew and performer members had arranged their working schedules around the production going ahead in Victoria in the early part of this year.

The union said it would contact the producers to seek a commitment that the production will still go ahead in Victoria and to ensure that its members are not adversely impacted.

The main monsoon season in India runs from June to September, which suggests filming is unlikely to resume before October.

Shantaram was lured to Australia by a $7.4 million grant from the Federal Government’s Location Incentive program, supported by Film Victoria’s Production Incentive Attraction Fund.

Charlie Hunnam stars as Lin, a former bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from an Australian prison and ends up in Bombay, where he finds a new life in the slums, bars and underworld of India.

Richard Roxburgh plays Detective Sergeant Marty Nightingale, who is part of an elite unit trained to pursue and capture escaped convicts, with Radhika Apte as an Indian journalist.

Kurzel is contracted to direct five episodes. The good news: Despite the showrunner upheaval, the producers reportedly are very happy with the footage they’ve seen.