“Say what you want about Mel Gibson, but the son of a bitch knows story structure.” –South Park, Season 11
How true. The former blockbuster star has an uncanny filmography that goes way beyond the expectations of an actor-turned-filmmaker: 1993’s The Man Without a Face, 1995’s Braveheart, 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, and 2006’s oft-ignored Apocalypto. These are varied slices of cinema that speak to the man’s strengths as a storyteller, which is why we’re pretty excited about his forthcoming American-Australian war drama, Hacksaw Ridge.
And why we’re even more excited about this latest bite of news: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mad Mel is taking his talents to the small screen for a new drama about the 1849 Gold Rush. Better yet, he’s working with an all-star cast that includes Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson. It’s called The Barbary Coast and it’s based on the book-of-the-same-name by Herbert Asbury, who wrote Gangs of New York, which Martin Scorsese adapted in 2002.
Here’s the book’s synopsis:
The history of the Barbary Coast properly begins with the gold rush to California in 1849. If the precious yellow metal hadn’t been discovered … the development of San Francisco’s underworld in all likelihood would have been indistinguishable from that of any other large American city. Instead, owing almost entirely to the influx of gold-seekers and the horde of gamblers, thieves, harlots, politicians, and other felonious parasites who battened upon them, there arose a unique criminal district that for almost seventy years was the scene of more viciousness and depravity, but which at the same time possessed more glamour, than any other area of vice and iniquity on the American continent.
The Barbary Coast is Herbert Asbury’s classic chronicle of the birth of San Francisco—a violent explosion from which the infant city emerged full-grown and raging wild. From all over the world practitioners of every vice stampeded for the blood and money of the gold fields. Gambling dens ran all day including Sundays. From noon to noon houses of prostitution offered girls of every age and race. (In the 1850s, San Francisco was home to only one woman for every thirty men. It was not until 1910 that the sexes achieved anything close to parity in their populations.) This is the story of the banditry, opium bouts, tong wars, and corruption, from the eureka at Sutter’s Mill until the last bagnio closed its doors seventy years later.
There’s no network attached to the series yet but it’s being distributed by The Mark Gordon Company, who was responsible for the long-running Grey’s Anatomy in addition to Criminal Minds and Ray Donovan. Pretty much everyone will serve as executive producer — Gibson, Russell, Hudson, even Kurt’s son Wyatt — and the ‘word on the street’ is that it’s being sold to “premium cable networks and streaming services.”
Here’s some Tuesday Mel for you: