Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Son, do you like to watch gladiator movies?"

Today at the TCA, Starz announces a new drama series Spartacus, from film producer Sam Raimi and his team, to premiere in the fall of 2009. According to producer Rob Tapert and producer/writer Steven S. DeKnight,  it will be heavily visual, with lots of green-screen action and effects.  "We're a green-screen show.  We'll never go outside.  We're not building Rome, outside of a 3-D model," Tapert says, in comparison to HBO's excellent but middling-rated series Rome.

DeKnight explained that the idea to the show came to him when he noticed the lack of "hard R" type of drama series on cable TV.  And so Spartacus, the story of a slave leading a rebellion in ancient Rome, will bring you the tough stuff.  In fact, the producers explain, the first draft of the show's pilot is "right now more NC-17, but we're going to tone it down slightly."

The TV version of Spartacus will, in merely its first season, cover story terrain that the famous film depicted in a mere 5 minutes.  With the luxury of season after season of storytelling, the producers explain, their show will be able to go into much more depth and background story.  And, it will be even more violent and sexual -- for example, delving into the gay subject matter,  a la the infamous "oysters/snails" gay scene between Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas which was cut from the original film, is not out of the question.  "There will definitely be gay characters on the show, and relationships," DeKnight promises.

"This was a brutal time in history, and the Roman society was taught not to shy away from blood and violence.  These gladiator fights could be incredibly brutal, guys going at each other with swords and tridents and various weapons," the writer continues.  "We're not shying away from that element, but embracing it.  But we're not going for a horror movie mentality."

And as far as sexuality, "the times [had] a completely different feel.  It was completely acceptable for a man to have sex with his slaves, the female and sometimes the male slaves.  It was somewhat trickier for a woman.  But as far as sexuality, we're trying to put it on screen not just because we can, but because of story.  If the story leads us to an extremely violent or sexual moment, we want to be able to show it."

And attention, well-built actors out there:  the producers are still searching for their Spartacus, the next Kirk Douglas.   "We are actively looking.  We have casting directors everywhere, and we're right smack in the middle of that," Tapert says.  And the search will take the world over.  "We want someone who is an undiscovered action star -- the Viggos, the Daniel Craigs, the Russell Crowes.  There aren't too many who are midwestern American boys, but we'll take 'em where we find 'em."

They'll have to find 'im soon -- production of Spartacus begins in New Zealand in March, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, I find it infinitely disappointing that a genius like Rob Tapert went so low as to team up with an idiot like DeKnigh. It’s like Einstein sponsoring a Monkey.

    “Well if we just give him enough time…probability say’s he’ll have to write SOMETHING legible…eventually.”

    This world just gets more insane by the minute.