You can ignore this “Spartacus” series

You need read only the first three sentences of this report to see why I say “You can ignore this.”

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Starz is making a play for bloodthirsty fans with its new drama series “Spartacus,” a remake of the Roman slave revolt tale.

The show’s producers promise it will be “a totally R-rated, hard, hard show.”

“There are decapitations, people being split in half,” said showrunner Steven DeKnight. “We don’t want to shy away from violence or sexuality. The beauty of being on premium cable is there is no story we can’t tell.”

The 100% green-screen production will “never go outside” and will take visual inspiration from the comic-book styling of movies such as “Sin City” and “300.” Yet producers said they’ll have to find a fresh balance between realism and style.

“It won’t be intensely monochromatic,” said executive producer Rob Tapert, who described the series as “Gladiator meets “Deadwood.” “We will make sure the process serves the storytelling and not the other way around.”

Another inspiration is HBO’s “Rome,” though the producers said their take on the ancient civilization will include “more testosterone.”

“There’s a gladiator fight in the first season of ‘Rome’ that I leaped off my couch when I saw it,” DeKnight said. “That will be more like what ‘Spartacus’ will be like.”

Starz plans to premiere “Spartacus” in the fall, but there’s one significant element lacking that even the best special effects can’t fix: there’s no lead actor. The producers said they’re searching for the ideal performer and hope to find an “undiscovered action star” to fill the role.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

e many budget-conscious networks are decreasing their presence at the Television Critics Assn.’s press tour, premium cable channel Starz presented more shows than ever as part of its scripted programing expansion.

Starz held sessions for three shows on Saturday, and announced that its first comedy block will premiere March 20.

“Traditionally known for our robust movie lineup, we have taken bold and deliberate steps to expand our original series,” said Bill Myers, president and CEO of Starz. “In 2009, we are committed to expand our presence in originals.”

The network’s comedy lineup includes the second season of improvised series “Head Case” and the debut of “Party Down,” about a Hollywood catering comedy.

The network hopes “Case” could reach a larger audience this year. In the vein of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the show has lined up attention-getting guest stars such as Jerry Seinfeld, Tori Spelling, Geri Halliwell and Hugh Hefner.

Myers said no decision has been made on whether the network’s modestly received first drama series, “Crash,” will return for another season. But Starz’s second drama effort, a remake of the Roman slave revolt tale “Spartacus,” should have little trouble getting some attention.

Producers Rob Tapert and Steven S. DeKnight
Copyright 2009 Reuters

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