As part of the Starz portion of the TCA Press Tour, President and CEO Chris Albrecht took some time to talk about the shows they currently have in production, and what their upcoming slate will look like. During the interview, he spoke about how they decide what original programming will be done for Starz and what will be done for Encore, the production challenges of the Michael Bay pirate series Black Sails (currently in pre-production in South Africa), how they came to the decision to end Spartacus, their desire to continue to work with that show’s creator Steven DeKnight, and when Black Sails, Da Vinci’s Demons, Marco Polo and Noir could hit the air. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Starz has journeyed back to Rome and Camelot with a couple of their original series, and now the cable network is heading into the past again for Marco Polo, a new epic series about the legendary 13th century explorer from Hidalgo writer John Fusco and executive producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein and Ben Silverman. Described as a martial arts epic, the series will follow Polo’s adventures throughout his early years in the court of Kublai Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire. Acting as the ruler’s spy, ambassador and explorer, Marco treks across the Far East and returns with tales of his journeys. In a court filled with political betrayal and forbidden relationships, Marco must use his martial arts training to survive, but it is his ability to enchant Khan with imaginative tales of his kingdom that is often his best tool to stay alive.
It definitely sounds like a side of Marco Polo that hasn’t been explored on the big or small screen, but it seems strange to think of Polo as a martial arts expert. Sounds a little bit like 13th century Jason Bourne without the identity crisis. Starz has had great success with Spartacus, but I haven’t found myself being drawn to their original content as much as networks like HBO or Showtime. However, they show no signs of slowing down in their efforts to complete with the Emmy nominated giants. Hit the jump for the full press release.
In an ongoing attempt to make historical figures seem cool, Warner Bros. has bought a pitch from screenwriters Adam Cooper and Bill Collage that would recast 13th century explorer Marco Polo into a hero of fantastical adventures. While the film would not be a biopic, Polo had an interesting life of traveling Asia for 24 years with his father and uncle, eventually meeting the ruler of the Mongol empire, Kublai Khan. Polo was also known for his penchant to fuck with blind people who were calling out his name (I have no other explanation as to how the popular swimming pool game began).
Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) is attached to direct. He’s also on board to helm the adaptation of the Depression-era drama, Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz.
Variety notes that this is Cooper and Collage’s third consecutive reimagination of a classic story purchased preemptively. They’ve already sold the story of Moses re-imagined in the style of 300 and a reinvention of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov.