‘Spartacus’ finds new arena at Team

TV series on Roman soldier's saga looks for 2001 launch

“Spartacus” has a new home.

Team Entertainment has secured from creators Neil Russell and Dennis Hackin the rights to the one-hour action series “Spartacus,” which had been announced as a project in development at Pearson Television (Daily Variety, March 16).

Project is being prepped for a 2001 launch, with Russell on board as exec producer. The show is based on the legendary Roman legionnaire, slave, gladiator and rebel leader of the first century, B.C.

Until recently Team Entertainment prexy James Waldron was an agent at CAA, where he repped Russell. Before joining Team in June, Waldron helped Russell negotiate to exit the “Spartacus” deal at Pearson.

“While I was at CAA, I introduced Neil to Drew (Levin, Team chairman-CEO). ‘Spartacus’ was something Drew and Team sparked to immediately, but it was set up at Pearson,” Waldron said. “When the regime at Pearson changed, we thought it was going to sit in development. Team is getting aggressively into first-run, so we worked on getting the project to Team.”

Pearson’s North American operations were restructured this year, as Brian Harris, former managing director of Pearson Intl., moved to the United States to serve as chief exec of Pearson TV North America.

The domestic division’s former co-chair/prexy of productions Tony Cohen then took the chief exec post of Pearson Worldwide Domestic Production in London, and former co-chair/prexy/CEO Bob Turner exited.

“Sometimes we have to make tough decisions about what will best satisfy the viewing audience and will have the best reception from stations,” said Joe Scotti, Pearson’s president of domestic distrib-marketing North America, when reached for comment about the deal.