HIT Australian TV series Underbelly will be adapted for US television by the man who brought The Sopranos and The Wire to the screen.
Former chief of pay-TV powerhouse HBO Chris Albrecht has acquired the rights to adapt the series now screening in the US and being promoted as Australia's "real-life Sopranos".
Des Monaghan, executive producer with the series producer Screentime, confirmed a speculative report in New York Magazine.
"I didn't expect an announcement for a few weeks but we're delighted by Chris's enthusiasm for the show," he said.
The series, the highest-rating drama on Australian TV this decade, is currently screening in the US on pay TV in chronological order, with A Tale of Two Cities on air now, followed by The Golden Mile and then series one.
Monaghan said the format of the series, initially based on John Silvester and Andrew Rule's Leadbelly books, would be kept for the US adaptation, which would focus upon US crime families and sagas.
"I can't tell you very much at all because nothing much has been determined," he said.
Screentime executives will have a series of meetings in August with Albrecht and the Starz US pay-TV network that Albrecht now heads.
Monaghan didn't expect US casting or production announcements for a further 12 to 18 months. He would not confirm whether Screentime would have any equity in the US production.
He expects Australian writers to be involved in a series that "will follow the Australian DNA in that it's based on actual events and it will name names".
And it will no doubt have an easier run with the law in the US.
"They certainly don't have as restrictive defamation issues as we have," Monaghan said.
The third series of Underbelly, titled The Golden Mile, concludes on the Nine Network this Sunday. A series of three Underbelly telemovies began production in Melbourne this week. The first, Underbelly: Files -- Tell Them Lucifer Was Here, focuses upon slain cops Garry Silk (played by Daniel Whyte) and Rodney Miller (Paul O'Brien) who were murdered while on a stakeout and the subsequent investigation.