May 19, 2024

Rachel Griffiths has been cast as the lead in “Madam,” a new dramedy series about an escort agency.

Griffiths, best known for her roles in “Six Feet Under” and “Brothers & Sisters,” stars as McKenzie ‘Mack’ Leigh, who sets up an ethical brothel in New Zealand after her philandering husband and mountain of debt leave her struggling to provide for her family.

Joining Griffiths on the show are Rima Te Wiata (“The Wheel of Time”), Danielle Cormack (“Wentworth”), Robbie Magasiva (“Bad Behaviour”), Martin Henderson (“Virgin River”) and newcomer Ariāna Osborne.

The series, which started shooting on location this week, is based on Antonia Murphy’s unpublished memoir about an American woman who opened an ethical escort agency in New Zealand after the country decriminalized sex work. Murphy’s company aimed to protect women’s rights, well-being and financial independence.

Showrunners are Shoshana McCallum (“Inside”) and Harry McNaughton (“The Pact”) while Kacie Anning (“Class of ’07”) and Madeleine Sami (“Gold Diggers”) direct.

“Madam” is produced by Tavake and XYZ Films for Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ and Fifth Season, who will also distribute the show internationally. In New Zealand it is set to air on local streamer ThreeNow and corresponding network Three.

Tom Hern (“Shadow in the Cloud,”) and Halaifonua Finau (“The Panthers”) are executive producing for Tavake, with Aumua Crystal Vaega (“The Panthers”) on board as co-executive producer and Belindalee Hope (“Guns Akimbo”) as producer. Nick Spicer (“Run Rabbit Run”), Aram Tertzakian (“The Raid 2”) and Marci Wiseman (“Sharp Objects”) exec produce for XYZ.

Alistair Jennings, SVP for Asia Pacific sales at Fifth Season said: “’Madam’ is inspired by a compelling and surprising true story, and this series promises an unexpected new take on the world’s oldest profession. Headlined by the formidable and globally recognisable star Rachel Griffiths, with a dynamic supporting ensemble and a perfect blend of humour, intrigue, romance and motherhood, we’re sure the show will both captivate and resonate with fans. We can’t wait to introduce ‘Madam’ to audiences around the world.”

Vicki Keogh, senior director of commissioning for Warner Bros Discovery ANZ added: “We’re delighted to bring ‘Madam’ and its exceptional cast, to ThreeNow and Three next year. The teams at Tavake and XYZ are exceptional and skilled at balancing the humour and empathy needed to tell this story. With its uniquely New Zealand perspective, we’re confident this series will resonate with audiences both locally and overseas.”

The show was made in association with Te Puna Kairangi Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund and NZ On Air and the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate.

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