Showtime show anoints a pope

Peter O’Toole will follow his Oscar-nommed turn in “Venus” by playing Pope Paul III on Showtime’s “The Tudors.”

Thesp has booked a seven-episode arc on the second season of the cabler’s frosh success story. He’ll lense his segs later this year for broadcast next spring.

The season two storyline promises to pit O’Toole’s pontiff against Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Henry VIII. Skein will follow the historic showdown between the two men.

“Peter O’Toole is the holy grail for ‘The Tudors,’ ” Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt told Daily Variety via email. “We needed someone of enormous stature to play Pope Paul III, who faced off against Henry VIII in his bid to get his divorce from Katherine of Aragon. Henry’s defiance of the pope and his break with the Roman Catholic Church is one of the great turning points in the history of the world.”

Greenblatt noted that while O’Toole has appeared in TV miniseries before, this will mark the actor’s first recurring series regular role. Thesp has been nominated for eight Oscars over his career, including this year for “Venus.”

Interestingly, O’Toole himself has played a King Henry before in two movies – but not a Tudor king. He played Henry II in 1964’s “Becket” and 1968’s “The Lion in Winter.”

Also joining the Showtime roster: Keith Carradine, who’ll be on join “Dexter” as a series regular.

He’ll play an FBI agent who comes to investigate a series of murders that turn out to be the work of the show’s title character (Michael C. Hall). He’ll end up romantically involved with Dexter’s sister (Jennifer Carpenter).

Carradine’s recent TV work includes a role as “Wild” Bill Hickok on HBO’s “Deadwood.”

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