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Sean Bean and ‘24′ Director Jon Cassar Join Second Season of ‘Medici’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Sean Bean will appear in the second season of epic Italy-set period drama “Medici: Masters of Florence.” Jon Cassar, executive producer and director of “24: Legacy” and “24: Live Another Day,” has also come on board the new season.

Cassar will direct and produce four of the eight episodes of the new “Medici,” whose first season starred Dustin Hoffman and was a runaway hit for RAI 1 in Italy, notably with younger viewers. Frank Spotnitz returns and will executive produce the series.

Bean will play poker-faced scheming aristocrat Jacopo Pazzi in the new run, which will likely be called “Medici: Lorenzo the Magnificent.” It will be co-produced by Italy’s Lux Vide, public broadcaster RAI, and Frank Spotnitz’s company Big Light.

Lux Vide is one of a handful of Italy-based producers coming to international attention with big English-language productions. The second season of “Medici” has a €24 million ($27 million) budget, placing it firmly in the ranks of high-end TV drama.

The show is set in 15th-century Florence and follows the Medici banking dynasty. In the first season, Hoffman played the family patriarch and Richard Madden his son Cosimo. The new series is set 20 years later, with the producers currently in talks with Madden to have him appear in flashback sequences.

Netherlands-based cable and telecoms group Altice is moving into streaming and original programming, and its Altice Studio is also a co-production partner on “Medici.” Altice’s SFR Play streaming service will carry the show in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

Netflix has rights to the new season of “Medici” in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India, and Taiwan, where it will be billed as a “Netflix Original.” Telefonica has bought it for its Movistar Plus pay service in Spain.

Shooting starts in August across locations in Italy, and will wrap by year’s end for a 2018 launch on RAI and the other platforms. Wild Bunch handled sales of the first season as it moved into TV distribution; buyers included Hulu Japan, Sky Deutschland, and Fox Latin America. The distributor for Season 2 has not been confirmed.

Lux Vide, based in Rome, is now looking to attract British and American partners as it continues to work up a slate of projects for the global market and to expand internationally. Upcoming series include “Devils,” a 10-part drama set in the world of high finance during the global financial crisis.

“Now you have global television,” said Lux Vide chief Luca Bernabei. “You’re not competing just with people in Europe, you’re competing with the U.S. and the rest of the world, and the level of investment being made is completely different. You have to make shows that are bigger than before but there is still a need for producers who can develop scripts and new ideas for the market.”

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