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US cablenet Epix to rebrand as MGM+ next year, commissions new originals

Forest Whitaker as gangster Bumpy Johnson in Godfather of Harlem

US cablenet Epix will relaunch as MGM+ in early 2023 with a host of recently greenlit scripted and unscripted series, including a 1970s crime thriller titled Hotel Cocaine.

The premium and ad-free linear and streaming service will rebrand as MGM+ on January 15 2023, six years after US studio MGM, now owned by Amazon, acquired Epix for US$1bn.

MGM+ will continue to be available in the US on Amazon’s Prime Video as well as cable, telco, satellite and digital distribution services.

Ahead of the rebrand, MGM+ has commissioned a host of series to join existing scripted originals on Epix such as Godfather of Harlem, Billy the Kid, From, Rogue Heroes and Belgravia.

MGM+ has greenlit eight-episode crime thriller Hotel Cocaine from Chris Brancato (Narcos, Godfather of Harlem), who will executive produce alongside Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth).

The Epix Studios show tells the story of Roman Compte – a Cuban exile, CIA operative and general manager of The Mutiny Hotel, the glamorous epicentre of the Miami cocaine scene of the late 70s and early 80s.

Belgravia: The Next Chapter, meanwhile, will pick up in 1865, 25 years after the events depicted in the 2020 limited series, which was written by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) and based on his novel of the same name.

Developed and written by Helen Edmundson (Dalgliesh, Mary Magdalene), it will tell the love story of Frederick Trenchard, who has grown up as the third Lord Glanville, and his new love interest Clara Dunn, who is a newcomer to London society.

The series reunites Carnival’s creative team – led by Gareth Neame – with Fellowes, who serves as executive producer. Neame, Nigel Marchant and Joanna Strevens are executive producers for Carnival.

The network is also adding more docuseries to join its series Laurel Canyon, Helter Skelter, My Life as a Rolling Stone, NFL Icons, Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horrors and Murf the Surf.

These include an as-yet-untitled four-part Amityville Murders docuseries, which chronicles the world’s most infamous haunted house tale.

The project, from B17 Entertainment and executive produced by Lesley Chilcott (Helter Skelter), looks at the heinous murder of a family of six that became eclipsed by paranormal controversy.

San Francisco Sounds (working title), meanwhile, is a two-part documentary series that tracks the history of the San Francisco music scene from 1965 to 1975.

Frank Marshall, Alex Gibney, Jeff Pollack, Darryl Frank, Justin Falvey, Stacey Offman, Richard Perello and Alison Ellwood are attached as executive producers along with Jeff Jampol.

Erin Edeiken and Tess Ranahan serve as producers. Ellwood is also attached to direct along with Anoosh Tertzakian. Jigsaw Productions is producing in association with Amblin Television and The Kennedy/Marshall Company.

The MGM+ service will also provide an expansive library of film titles from MGM and other major Hollywood Studios.

“MGM is one of the most iconic and beloved brands from the golden age of entertainment,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “This rebrand is a promise to existing and new viewers that MGM+ is the place to find television that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the iconic MGM brand – cinematic programming with sophisticated storytelling that entertains, delights, surprises and transports. MGM is television for movie lovers.”

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