Miniseries to be adapted from Ken Follett novel

BERLIN — Scott Free and Tandem Communications are re-teaming on a miniseries adaptation of Ken Follett’s “World Without End,” the sequel to “The Pillars of the Earth.”

“Pillars” writer John Pielmeier is returning to adapt the bestseller for a possible eight-hour series. Starz, which is airing “Pillars” in July, has agreed to co-finance development with Tandem and has an option for U.S. rights to the project.

“Broadcasters worldwide understand that once you have captivated an audience, you must reward their loyalty by building on the franchise,” said Tandem topper Rola Bauer. “‘World Without End’ allows us to give our partners on ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ that next part of the franchise.”

Set in the same medieval town of Kingsbridge but taking place 200 years later, “World Without End” unfolds against the backdrop of scourge and pestilence as Europe is plunged into the Hundred Years’ War and enveloped by the Black Death. Featuring descendants of the original characters, the story follows four of the town’s residents whose lives are shaped and twisted by a violent and mysterious childhood incident as they journey through turbulent times and ultimately reunited again by ambition, greed, love and revenge.

“We were impressed by the quality and ambitions Tandem and Scott Free brought to ‘The Pillars of the Earth,'” said Starz topper Chris Albrecht. “We expect the same, if not more, with the ‘World Without End’ adaptation, and hope it can be developed into another event series for Starz in the U.S.”

Added Scott Free Television prexy David W. Zucker: “The production values on ‘Pillars’ are comparable to what we would expect in a feature. With the now long-standing relationship between Tandem and Scott Free, it makes perfect sense to seek out an opportunity to extend that spectacular quality to more of Ken Follett’s great storytelling and John Pielmeier’s wonderful adaptation.”

The book has sold more than five million copies worldwide since its release in 2007, spending 30 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

“World Without End” is the latest joint project from Scott Free and Tandem. In addition to the $40 million “Pillars,” the companies are also producing an adaptation of Robert Harris’ historical novel “Pompeii” with Sony Pictures Television.

For Starz, “World Without End” marks yet another new historical property; the pay cabler just announced it was developing the medieval period drama “William the Conqueror” with Ben Silverman’s Electus. It’s also bringing the legend of King Arthur to U.S. auds with “Camelot” and is currently selling its sword-and-sandals hit “Spartucs: Blood and Sand” at the Mip TV mart in Cannes.

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