Paramount+ has been working overtime in moving into international series. The streaming service's stated plan is to have 50 series or films in production by year's end. We're not even halfway through 2022, and already the U.K. slate has grown to include Jessica Brown Findlay's Flatshare, Kenneth Branagh's A Gentleman in Moscow, Simon Beckett's The Chemistry of Death, and Hugh Bonneville's The Gold. The newest project joining that list is a super ambitious ten-part series based on the autobiography of John Ibrahim, Last King of the Cross, starring Ian McShane (Deadwood).
The project technically hails from Paramount+ Australia but is expected to stream worldwide. In March, McShane was cast alongside Australia's Lincoln Younes (Grand Hotel). Younes plays the real-life John Ibrahim, who allegedly is one of Australia’s most recognizable modern-day organized crime figures, who rose to power as an infamous nightclub mogul in Sydney’s Kings Cross. (Ibrahim, it should be noted, denies everything, and has never been convicted.) McShane plays the show's main antagonist, Ezra Shipman, who has ruled King's Cross for going on 60 years.
This is the second fictionalized drama series based on Ibrahim's life, though there are also a few True Crime episodes dedicated to the alleged dealings of his family. It's also the first to focus on his relationship with Shipman, a man looking for an heir who will help extend his reign when the series starts. He takes on Ibrahim as one of his acolytes, happy to use the ambitious kid who reminds him of himself as a teenager. But, as in all crime dramas, both true and fictional, Ibrahim takes the inch he's given and a few miles to spare until it's no longer clear if it's Shipman using and manipulating his protege or if his student has now become the master.
Inspired by John Ibrahim’s best-selling autobiography, Last King of The Cross is an operatic story of two brothers, Sam and John Ibrahim who organize the street but lose each other in their ascent to power. The drama tracks John Ibrahim’s rise from a poverty-stricken immigrant with no education, no money, and no prospects, to Australia’s most infamous nightclub mogul in Sydney’s Kings Cross – a mini-Atlantic City, barely half a mile long with every form of criminality on offer.
Younes and McShane are joined by co-stars Callan Mulvey (The Luminaries), Tess Haubrich (Jack Irish: Deadpoint), Matt Nable (The Dry), Claude Jabbour (Stateless), Maria Tran (Echo 8), and Damian Walshe-Howling (Terra Nova). Mr. Inbetween's Kieran Darcy-Smith wrote all ten episodes and is slated to direct the series.
The series has just begun filming in Sydney and is expected to wrap by mid-to-late summer. Viewers should expect a release date for Last King of the Cross in early 2023 in its home country and then to follow overseas.