ROME – Germany’s Tele München Group has boarded “The Name of the Rose” as co-producer and international sales agent of the high-end English-language TV adaptation of Umberto Eco’s bestseller, which will start shooting at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios in January.
The show, as previously announced by Variety, toplines John Turturro (pictured) as 14th-century Franciscan monk William of Baskerville, who investigates a series of grisly murders. The series will consist of eight episodes and is budgeted at €26 million ($30 million).
The show’s Italian production companies, 11 Marzo and Palomar, along with Italian state broadcaster Rai’s Rai Fiction unit, sealed the deal with TMG after long negotiations with Wild Bunch TV to become the show’s international distributor recently fell through.
Rupert Everett has been cast as the monk’s antagonist, Inquisitor Bernard Gui. Rising young German actor Damien Hardung (“The Red Band Society”) will play a key role as Benedictine novice Adso of Melk, William of Baskerville’s apprentice sleuth.
The director is veteran Italian TV helmer Giacomo Battiato, whose credits include “L’infiltré,” a Palestinian terrorism thriller nominated for an International Emmy.
The ambitious “Name of the Rose” skein marks the first TV adaptation of Eco’s groundbreaking historical murder mystery. The novel was made into a 1986 movie by Jean-Jacques Annaud after selling millions of copies around the world.
Eco, who died in 2016, supervised the screenplays, which are penned by writer-director Andrea Porporati in tandem with British writer Nigel Williams (“Elizabeth I”).
11 Marzo President Matteo Levi said in a statement that “it was wonderful working with Umberto Eco.” He noted that “the first step developing this project will certainly remain as one of the highest points of my career” and added: “The commitment of such an extraordinary pool of producers such as 11 Marzo, Palomar, Rai and TMG will be devoted to making a TV series that is up to an incredible book and the trust that Umberto Eco has put in us.”
TMG managing director Herbert L. Kloiber said he was delighted to work with 11 Marzo, Palomar and Rai “on the screen adaptation of another world bestseller” after working with Matteo Levi’s father Roberto Levi on the adaptation of Stendhal’s “The Charterhouse of Parma” 40 years ago.
Palomar CEO Nicola Serra said that the show fits perfectly with the company’s “growing international strategy” while Rai Fiction Head of Drama Tinny Andreatta noted that the show “combines a dream team” mixing “the best Italian creativity” with excellent international talent “to tell a story with universal appeal.” Rai will air the show in Italy.
Production will take place at Cinecittà and in the Lazio region surrounding Rome and also the nearby Abruzzo region. Principal photography will start at Cinecittà on Jan. 15.