Showtime commits to Maupin's miniseries

NEW YORK — Showtime has committed to a third miniseries taken from Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” novels, which will star Laura Linney, Parker Posey and Olympia Dukakis.

Jerry Offsay, president of programming for Showtime, said he’s gearing up to commission four more miniseries aimed at calendar 2000, which would be a record number for the network, which has never scheduled more than two minis in any previous season. He’ll announce the next one in early June.

Showtime scheduled “Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City” as a six-hour mini in May of 1998, which was a sequel to the PBS telecast that originated the Maupin adaptations.

The first mini made a splash on public broadcasting in the mid-1990s, partly for the quality of the writing and acting and partly for the occasional nudity, which caused a furor among PBS stations in some cities with strict community standards.

When PBS walked away from doing the sequel because of the outcry, Showtime came to the rescue.

Offsay declined to discuss the production budget of the latest mini, which is called “Armistead Maupin’s Further Tales of the City,” but sources said it will cost about $7.5 million. The Canadian company BBR Prods. will shoot “Further Tales” in Montreal, with exteriors in San Francisco, where the novels are set.

Tim Bevan, Alan Poul, Luc Chatelain and Suzanne Girard are executive producers for Showtime, WTTV and Spectra. Girard is also producer. The director is Pierre Gang, and Maupin and James Lecesne have written the screenplay.

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