Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Script pending on "Rome" series movie wrapup!

I was browsing Steven Saylor's website today and saw a blurb about Bruno Heller working on a movie script for "Rome" to serve as a decent wrapup of the original HBO miniseries.

[Image: Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo. Courtesy of HBO]

I am ecstatic! Like many "Rome" fans, I couldn't believe HBO made such a monumental mistake when they canceled the series. I guess HBO has come to that realization as well:

"The lavish period drama ran for two seasons on HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC. With the final season of "The Sopranos" as its lead-in, the first season was solidly rated. But the show's hefty $100 million production cost presented the network with a tough call on the pickup. HBO opted for a second season to help get more value from its initial investment but not a third, effectively canceling the show in summer 2006 before the second season debuted the following January. The "Rome" sets were destroyed, and the actors were released from their contracts, making the network's decision all but irreversible.

But season 2 of "Rome" was a surprise. Although slightly lower rated than the first, the show did much better than HBO expected without its "Sopranos" lead-in (averaging roughly 6.5 million viewers, nearly the same as "True Blood"). Plus it won awards, which is important to a pay network that attracts subscribers by offering premium programming: Post-cancellation, the first season received four Emmy Awards, and then another seven Emmys were heaped upon the final season.

Suddenly "Rome" was a Greek tragedy: a successful show with no future. The broadcast nets quickly snatched up the show's leads for top fall pilots.

HBO executives have since admitted that axing the show probably was a mistake. - More: The Live Feed

Apparently, Heller is considering picking up the story some years later in Palestine.

"Heller would not discuss plot ideas, but the original series outline for "Rome" next called for the hedonistic Roman leaders to deal with the rise of a certain problematic rabbi -- a story line that would have put a new Roman-perspective spin on the Greatest Story Ever Told and potentially bring "Rome" a larger audience." - - More: The Live Feed

I'm not sure this tactic would attract any religious viewers (if that's what Heller means) unless Heller tones down the visceral reality factor in the series. I hope he doesn't do that, though, for the sake of broadening audience appeal. It's the gritty nature of the series that made it stand out from the syrupy visions of the ancient world of many previous sword and sandal flicks. Of course its outstanding production qualities certainly helped as well. It garnered emmys for art direction, cinematography, costumes, hair design (must have been all of those wonderfully outrageous styles and wigs worn by Atia!) and visual effects.

I also found a brief interview on MovieWeb with actor Ray Stevenson who played Pullo in the HBO miniseries indicating the script is nearing completion:

Is the Rome movie still moving ahead?

Ray Stevenson: Apparently so. It is no longer a smoke and mirrors rumor. The script is in full development. As you are probably aware, this is a pretty strange process. We could go into production in a year, or it could be as quick as six months. Who knows? It will happen. At least it is no longer a rumor. From what I have heard, they are nearing the end of script development. We shall see. We shall see.

How excited are you to go back and play Titus all over again.

Ray Stevenson: I can't wait to dust off the cobwebs of old Pullo. The guy is going to come in with a high body count. I love Pullo. I love him to pieces. I had such a great time playing him. And I got to do it in Italy and Rome. He is very special to me. He is a very special part of my history. I was very blessed to get that part. - More: MovieWeb
I'll keep my fingers crossed and my eyes peeled! 2010 looks like its going to be my kind of year with a "Rome" movie sequel, "Agora", a movie about Hypatia starring Rachel Weisz and a Spartacus series on Starz!
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