I am Spartacus!
The cry of “I am Spartacus!” will once more resound, this time weekly. Starz will air a new 13-episode series from executive producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen.
The premium movie channel has already produced Crash, a weekly series based on the Oscar-winning film, which began airing several weeks back. This will be the first in-house production for the channel. Steven S. DeKnight (Smallville) will be the head writer and showrunner.
Raimi, Tapert, and Donen developed the series and intend to produce the series in New Zealand in time for debut next summer. Each episode is likely to have a budget in excess of $2 million, surpassing their other series, Legend of the Seeker. The world of ancient Rome will be digitally rendered, a first for a weekly TV series.
No casting has been announced as yet.
The real story of the slave who led a rebellion against his Roman captors in 73 A.D. was immortalized in the 1960 movie starring Kirk Douglas which won four Academy Awards. It was most recently retold as a 2004 miniseries starring ER’s Goran Visnjic and Rhona Mitra.
"This is not going to be at all like the 1960s Kirk Douglas film," Starz Entertainment executive vp programming Stephan Shelanski told The Hollywood Reporter. "We didn’t want your typical sword-and-sandals. It’s going to be fun, fast-moving, full of action and interesting characters and have a little more depth to it than the 1960s film."
Shelanski says the channel acknowledges the storytelling has to be done for an audience primed by movies like 300. Being a premium channel, they can go for R-rated violence and storytelling. "It will bring the younger audience who has grown up on graphic novels and video games this heightened reality; it’s not going to look like anything you’ve seen before, especially on TV," said executive vp original production William Hamm. Hamm has previously worked with Raimi and Tapert at Universal TV to produce the similar Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.