Fallout from Neil Jordan disowning his Riviera TV series continues

Sky drops Riviera from the Iftas after creator and co-writer Jordan disowned the super-lavish series earlier this year

The trailer for Sky Atlantic series, Riviera, starring Julia Stiles.

 

Hold on to your diamond-cut champagne glasses – there’s high drama on Sky show Riviera as the broadcaster has declined to submit it to the Irish Film and Television Academy (Ifta), despite – and indeed because of – Neil Jordan’s involvement.

Nominations for entry to the 2018 Iftas awards closed on Friday, November 17th. And while other major productions featuring “talented Irish people working in the film and television industries in Ireland and internationally”, such as Game of Thrones, were put forward, Sky omitted Riviera from its entry list, given it had been openly disowned by its creator and co-writer Neil Jordan.

The Oscar-winning film-maker bluntly said: “I can’t claim it’s mine. If I had been in control of the thing it would have been quite different.”

A source told The Irish Times that it was decided not to nominate the series given the sensitivities around Neil Jordan’s relationship with the show.

The glossy series in question, filmed in the French Riviera and concerning the high drama of a drippingly wealthy family whose billionaire father is seemingly killed in a yacht explosion, boded well when it was launched in June on Sky Atlantic.

Originating with an idea from U2 manager Paul McGuinness and picked up by production behemoths HBO, it was a big-budget drama for which the Oscar-winning Jordan was originally brought on as showrunner. He co-wrote the first two episodes with Booker Prize winning author John Banville, and its beautiful-people cast included Julia Stiles, Lena Olin and Iwan Rheon.

Neil Jordan: ‘All I can say is, good luck to them.’ Photograph: Eric Luke
Neil Jordan: ‘All I can say is, good luck to them.’ Photograph: Eric Luke

Jordan complained that the two episodes had been rewritten. “They were changed, to my huge surprise and considerable upset. There were various sexual scenes introduced into the story and a lot of very expository dialogue. I objected in the strongest terms possible.”

“It’s being described as Dynasty sur mer,” he added. “It was quite distressing for John and for myself, the way it proceeded.”

Despite the power, talent and money involved and a number of creative differences later, the result was something thatIrish Times critic Patrick Freyne succinctly described as “Eldorado meets the How to Spend It supplement of the Financial Times meets Scooby Doo”.

Riviera stands with a “tomato splat” 58 per cent score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Still, Sky have announced it would return for a second season on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV, as the figures remain respectable: it racked up 20 million downloads and views through Sky’s digital channels, more than critically-acclaimed series such as Billions or the Emmy Award-winning Big Little Lies, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

The news was unveiled at the launch of Sky’s 2018 highlights, where other acquisitions were revealed to include Britannia, a Roman invasion epic drama starring David Morrissey, Zoë Wanamaker and Mackenzie Crook; Patrick Melrose in which Benedict Cumberbatch takes the title role; and Gangs of London, starring and written by The Walking Dead/Snatch star Lennie James.

An air date for the second series of Riviera is still to be confirmed; in any case, we won’t hold our breath that Neil Jordan will attend the premiere.

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