Kirch unveils mini empire

Prod'n consists of six 180-minute episodes over 4 years

CANNES — Hallmark, the U.S. producer of literary and historical miniseries, now has a European rival. Germany’s Kirch Group has just unveiled a batch of miniseries including a mega-project about Rome called “The Rise and Fall of an Empire.”

Production will consist of six 180-minute event miniseries, to be produced over a period of four years. Kirch Group programming prexy Jan Mojto said the undertaking is as big as the group’s epic Bible series.

The English-lingo series will be a co-production with Lux Vide and Kirch and Mediaset’s joint television production venture, Evision.

“The Rise and Fall” will kick off with Julius Caesar and Octavian’s takeover of the empire, and the whole 600 years of the Roman empire will be covered in the series, to be written by Eric Lerner (“Kiss the Sky,” “Bird on a Wire”).

Series adds to Kirch’s growing roster of big productions. Among these is the two-parter “The Crusaders” to be co-produced with Lux Vide.

Set in Italy at the end of the 11th century, “The Crusaders” follows three young men who join the crusade to Jerusalem.

Continuing its long-term collaboration with Gerard Depardieu, company announced Wednesday a six-hour, $35 million event series, “Julius Caesar,” to star the French thesp. Other joint projects include “Napoleon,” which follows the event minis “The Count of Monte Cristo,” “Balzac” and “Les Miserables.”

Selling well at the Mipcom mart, where miniseries were definitely back in fashion, was two-parter “The Tunnel,” about an escape route under the Berlin Wall.

Other projects include “Dr. Zhivago,” a joint venture with the U.K.’s Granada, and “Dune,” starring William Hurt.

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