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Mining the classics

'Solomon,' 'Frankenstein' get Hallmark minis

Hallmark Entertainment has given the go-ahead to two four-hour miniseries: a remake of “King Solomon’s Mines,” starring Patrick Swayze, and yet another version of “Frankenstein.”

Both minis are tentatively earmarked for a U.S. debut on the Hallmark Channel, but that’s not a given: When production wraps, co-exec producer Robert Halmi Jr. reserves the right to pitch on the minis to a broadcast network, or a cable net with a bigger circulation than Hallmark’s 52 million subscribers.

But it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Hallmark to premiere a mini on the Hallmark Channel. Halmi Jr. co-exec produced “Johnson County War,” with Tom Berenger, Rachel Ward and Burt Reynolds, which had its first play on Hallmark last August.

The broadcast nets have cut back on commissioning miniseries because, in too many instances, they don’t pull in enough viewers to justify their high license fees.

But cablers still employ multi-parters in their program arsenals.

TNT recently scheduled the four-hour “Caesar,” and USA weighed in with “Helen of Troy”; both delivered solid Nielsens.

“Frankenstein,” directed by Kevin Connor, stars Alec Newman (“Dune”), Luke Goss (“Blade 2”) and Julie Delpy. Location shoots include Austria and Slovakia.

Hallmark is touting “Frankenstein” as the first miniseries based on the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley novel since “Frankenstein: The True Story” (1973), adapted by Christopher Isherwood.

The goal of Connor’s remake is to stick as close as possible to the original novel. Jim Wilberger and Larry Levinson are co-exec producers with Halmi Jr.

For “King Solomon’s Mines,” based on the H. Rider Haggard novel, pre-production is completed and shooting starts later this month in South Africa. Steve Boyum is the director. Halmi Jr. is co-exec producer with Russ Markowitz.

The hero of “King Solomon’s Mines,” Allan Quatermain, is currently being played by Sean Connery in “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”

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