STUDIO is thrilled to announce the commissioning of Taking On The Chocolate Frog, a new Australian television series produced by Screentime, a Banijay Group company, which centres on an unlikely troupe of Shakespearean wannabes and is inspired by the work of infamous criminal turned award-winning playwright, Jim McNeil. The three-part series will challenge ex-prisoners to perform McNeil’s The Chocolate Frog, and will follow the process from rehearsal to final performance in front of a live audience of A-list actors and respected theatre critics; inside the gaol in which the play emerged – Parramatta Correctional Centre.
Exclusively produced with funding assistance from Foxtel’s Production Fund, this remarkable series offers a group of hardened ex-criminals the opportunity to reinvent themselves as stage actors under the guidance of their teacher and mentor Grant Thompson. A respected industry teacher to reformed ex-prisoners, Grant’s past students have secured paid acting work in both Australian and US films and television series, including Screentime’s Underbelly and Bikie Wars: Brothers in Arms.
Chris Keely, General Manager of STUDIO said, “We are very pleased to be joining forces with Screentime, and with thanks to Foxtel’s Production Fund we are able to bring to life this inspiring and gripping masterpiece, featuring those who have personally experienced a similar haunting journey as McNeil himself.”
Following the emotional journey of Grant and his cast, the series illustrates the fascinating story of Jim McNeil – famous as an Australian Writer’s Guild Award winning playwright, but also one of Australia’s most violent criminals from the 1960s
who publicly struggled to assimilate back into society and life outside prison. McNeil wrote The Chocolate Frog during a 17-year prison sentence, in an attempt to show those who knew nothing of prison life that prison values are just faithful reflections of some of society’s own attitudes.
“With the announcement of this unique new series, Foxtel is thrilled to continue encouraging and investing in the Australian arts scene and capturing original content for broadcast around the country. The Foxtel Production Fund has assisted in STUDIO commissioning innovative new programs since 2010, and we’re delighted to bring this dramatic story to our subscribers in early 2014”, said Foxtel’s Executive Director of Television Brian Walsh.
Created and executive produced by Simon Steel, Taking On The Chocolate Frog is executive produced by Bob Campbell, and executive produced and series directed by Debbie Cuell.
Simon Steel, Screentime Executive Producer Entertainment said, “The incredible story of Jim McNeil is largely unknown to many Australians. We are excited to introduce a new generation to an extraordinary part of Australia’s theatre history as Grant and his cast take on The Chocolate Frog.”
STUDIO is only available on Foxtel on channel 132.
For more information or imagery please contact:
(02) 9430 3452.