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Apple TV’s ‘Shantaram’ Halts Production Amid Search for New Showrunner, Weather Problems

Variety logo Variety 2/20/2020 Patrick Frater
Charlie Hunnam wearing a black shirt © Michelle Quance/Variety/Shutterstock

Production of Apple TV PlusCharlie Hunnam-starring “Shantaram” has been halted in Australia due to a writing backlog. Only two of 10 episodes shot so far, Variety has confirmed.

Though all episodes had been outlined in the writers’ room, it is understood that showrunner and high-profile screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (“Top Gun: Maverick,” “American Hustle”) had not yet completed all the necessary scripts. He will now leave the show. Although a new showrunner is expected to be hired soon, filming is unlikely to resume for several months while the remaining episodes are written.

The adventure drama is an adaptation of the eponymous epic novel by Gregory David Roberts, in which a drug-addicted former bank robber attempts to lose and reinvent himself in the slums of Mumbai. The novel has been published in 39 languages in 42 territories worldwide and sold six million copies.

The show is produced by Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content for Apple. Some A$7.4 million ($5 million) of finance comes from the Australian federal government’s location attraction scheme and the Production Incentive Fund of Film Victoria, the state screen industry support body.

Australia’s Justin Kurzel, whose recent credits include “Assassin’s Creed” and “The True History of the Kelly Gang,” is under contract to direct five episodes.

Production halted shortly before Christmas and had been expected to resume this week. That plan has now been ditched.

“A longer push became official when we determined that we would not be ready to shoot before monsoon season in India,” crew were told in a note. India’s Southwest summer monsoon is typically a four-month period that lasts from June to October.

A replacement showrunner with a focus on production logistics is to be hired. Sources close to the production told Variety that hiring should happen soon, and that producers are extremely pleased by what has been shot so far. Details of who will direct the other five episodes were not confirmed.

The sources indicated that the main cast, which also includes Australia’s Richard Roxburgh and India’s Radhike Apte, remains firmly attached. The hiatus may, however, mean that not all local extras can be retained.

News of the production hiatus was first reported by Inside Film. Adam Portelli, of the MEAA trades union, told the publication: “This is disappointing for our crew and performer members who have arranged their working schedules around this production going ahead in Victoria in the early part of this year, particularly given that more than $7 million of Australian and Victorian taxpayers’ money was spent to lure this production to Victoria.”

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