ABC Hands Pilot Order To ‘Dark Horse’, Adaptation Of Australian Drama ‘Total Control’, From William Jehu Garroutte & Jessica Goldberg

Total Control
Total Control ABC Australia / Keshet

ABC is remaking Australian political drama Total Control and has handed the project a pilot order.

The Disney-owned network is piloting Dark Horse, written by Stumptown story editor William Jehu Garroutte with The Path creator Jessica Goldberg set as showrunner.

The original show, which was commissioned by ABC Australia with the working title Black Bitch, was co-created by Rachel Griffiths, who starred in HBO’s Six Feet Under and ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. 

Dark Horse comes from Keshet Studios, Universal Television, where the U.S. arm of the Israeli company has a first-look deal, and ABC Signature.

The drama follows Alex Irving, a passionate Indigenous woman, on her unconventional journey into politics. As Alex reckons with her own troubled past, she juggles obligations to her family, to her culture, and to a political system that’s never seen anybody quite like her.

2021 ABC Pilots & Series Orders

William Jehu Garroutte

Jehu Garroutte (left) is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and in addition to Stumptown, worked as a story editor on Sony’s international series Unknown Girl and Showtime’s The Kingkiller Chronicles. Golberg created Hulu drama The Path and has also worked on series such as Netflix’s Away and NBC’s Parenthood.

The pair will exec produce alongside Keshet’s Peter Traugott, Avi Nir and Alon Shtruzman, Griffiths and Darren Dale and Miranda Dear of Blackfella Films, which produced the original.

It is the latest drama pilot order for ABC, which has handed orders to Sam Esmail’s procedural Acts of Crime, Kevin Costner’s National Parks, hip hop drama Queens and fantasy drama Epic.

The Australian series, which starred Aboriginal Australian actor Deborah Mailman as Irving and Griffiths as Australian Prime Minister Rachel Anderson, launched in October 2019. The six-part series was distributed by Keshet International, the distribution arm of the Israeli media company.

Australian public broadcaster ABC changed the title from Black Bitch to Total Control a couple of months ahead of transmission, but Keshet International used the title, which Griffiths came up with twenty years ago when she was working on a documentary about Indigenous land rights, when selling it globally.

The story deals with gender and race and representation as well as how women of color have an extra barrier to deal with in a patriarchal society. “That title seems to encapsulate the vilification attempts to delegitimize and the extra barriers faced by woman of color participating in public life. It sort of feels like nothing has necessarily changed or certainly hasn’t changed too much in that time,” Griffiths told Deadline in 2019. “We haven’t had a show in Australia that was quite serious political satire. It was not born of being particularly cynical. I mean it’s a true drama and it’s not a cynical look,” she added.

Keshet is represented by WME and William Jehu Garroutte is repped by Buchwald. Goldberg is represented by UTA and McKuin Frankel Whitehead.

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