Entertainment

Can our Rake survive the US culture

Flamboyant barrister Cleaver Greene, played by Richard Roxburgh, has cut a rough swath through clients, girlfriends and court cases for the past four years on Australian television.

The producers of the US remake of Rake are hoping his US counterpart, Keegan Joye - played by Greg Kinnear - can do the same.

Law and disorder: Greg Kinnear in the US version of the show (left), and Richard Roxburgh in <i>Rake.</i>
Law and disorder: Greg Kinnear in the US version of the show (left), and Richard Roxburgh in Rake. 

But US culture loves its heroes, and one of the biggest challenges, says Peter Duncan, who produced the Australian series and is working on the US remake, is keeping the main character's personality flaws intact.

That is no small task in the US TV scene, which looks to find Superman in every mild-mannered man.

<i>Rake</i> producer Peter Duncan with Greg Kinnear.
Rake producer Peter Duncan with Greg Kinnear. 

''This is a more idealistic society, and I think by and large, despite the number of shootings, most people want to appeal to their better selves,'' Duncan says at an exclusive on-set first look at the series. ''It's also a more religious society.''

In US trade media, Rake has drawn some comparison with the hit Fox drama House, which starred British actor Hugh Laurie as a cantankerous medico.

But Duncan swiftly, and accurately, points out that doctors and lawyers are very different people.

''The thing about House is he can be as curmudgeonly and hideous as he likes, but at the end of the episode he saves a life and he is forgiven,'' Duncan says.

The US set of <i>Rake</i>.
The US set of Rake

''We have been lucky in that Sony, because they have had stewardship of this before we got involved with Fox, and indeed [network president] Kevin Reilly at Fox, have said, 'We love the show you made, and we don't want to mess up your process.'''

The character of Rake was loosely based on Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet, who was one of the show's co-creators.

<i>Rake</i> producer Peter Duncan on set in the US.
Rake producer Peter Duncan on set in the US. 

The US version of the series goes to air on Fox in the US this month, and in Australia on the Universal Channel shortly after.

It is one of a slate of Australian productions making noises overseas, including the sale to the US of Please Like Me, US remakes of the ABC comedies The Strange Calls and Lowdown and the German remake of Foxtel's Prisoner reboot, Wentworth.

In fact, the value of Australia's content on the global television market has never been higher, says Ian Collie, a co-executive producer of both versions of Rake.

''[The production company] Hoodlum has, I think, three shows in circulation,'' Collie says. ''[Production company] Jungleboys is here in Los Angeles. Adam Zwar has Lowdown and Wilfred. And I'd be surprised if [Nine's] House Husbands doesn't get a look in as a format.''