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HBO greenlights Spielberg mini

Project is an Asian-theater take on WWII

HBO Films has greenlit “The Pacific,” a WWII miniseries from “Band of Brothers” exec producers Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman that will serve as a kind of companion piece to that earlier project.

Production will begin in Australia this summer, with the mini to run on the net possibly in 2009.

Spielberg, Hanks and Goetzman will serve as exec producers. HBO Films will produce in association with Playtone and DreamWorks Television.

Tony To and Graham Yost are co-exec producers. Bruce McKenna is supervising producer, and Robert Schenkkan, George P. Pelecanos and Michelle Ashford are co-producers.

Project, an Asian-theater take on WWII whose title had also surfaced at one time as “The Pacific War,” had been in development at the pay net.

Cast members and a director have yet to be attached.

“The Pacific” will draw on several sources of material, including Eugene Sledge’s tome “With the Old Breed” and Robert Leckie’s “Helmet for My Pillow.”

Hugh Ambrose, son of the late historian Stephen Ambrose, will serve as a consultant on the project; Stephen Ambrose’s book of the same name was the source material for “Band of Brothers.”

“The Pacific” follows the stories of the two authors, as well as that of fellow Marine John Basilone, as they the fight against Japan across the entire Asian theater.

Much of the mini will be shot in Melbourne, where U.S. troops were stationed during the war.

“Band of Brothers” was a huge hit for HBO in 2001 and won six Emmys and a Golden Globe.

But despite the similarities between “The Pacific” and “Brothers,” HBO Films topper Colin Callender noted that the new project will dramatize how the Asian war “profoundly differed from the European front. This was a different sort of war fighting a different sort of enemy.”

After years of movies set in Europe, Hollywood has directed its WWII efforts toward Asia, as with Clint Eastwood’s “Letter From Iwo Jima” last year.

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