Ex-MLB player joins 1019 to produce 'Constantine'

Ralph Winter and Terry Botwick’s 1019 Entertainment are heading to ancient Rome and teaming with former Major League Baseball player Mike Piazza to produce “Constantine.”

David Franzoni, a producer and screenwriter on “Gladiator,” has written the screenplay, which centers around the complicated power struggle between rival claimants to the empire after the death of Galerius in 311 A.D. Under his reign, Rome’s capital was moved to the newly named Constantinople as he attempted to unite his empire through the spread of Christian doctrine.

“Constantine” will be produced by Winter, Botwick and Piazza. Tom Allen will exec produce. Franzoni said the emperor carries similarities to Russell Crowe’s Maximus character in “Gladiator.”

“Although one of the most revered figures in the history of the world, Constantine was above all, a man,” Franzoni said. “Portraying his loves, fears and his drive to simply survive, make him very much a Maximus-style hero.”

Producers credited Piazza’s involvement with getting the screenplay written.

“I’ve always been interested in this history of the Roman Empire, and this peaked when I visited Rome,” Piazza said. “The spread of Christianity during Constantine’s reign struck me as a huge turning point in human history and I think film is the best medium to capture such a significant moment.”

Piazza retired from MLB in 2008 as a 12-time All-Star and holds the record for home runs hit by a catcher with 396 and a career total of 427. Piazza’s bio “Long Shot” was released last week by Simon & Schuster.

Winter’s producing credits include “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” 1019 Entertainment has more than a dozen projects in development and recently teamed with Lionsgate for a TV series for TNT based on Dean Koontz’s “Frankenstein” franchise.

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