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Borgias to replace ‘Tudors’?

Showtime eyes possible successor to show

Murder, adultery, thievery, family intrigue and great costumes: Sounds like grist for a pay cable drama, and that’s what scribe-helmer Neil Jordan intends to make of the infamous Borgia clan for Showtime, DreamWorks Television and Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers banner.

Jordan (“The Crying Game,” “The Brave One”) has penned a script and a bible for a prospective series that the pay cabler is eyeing as a possible successor to “The Tudors.” Jordan will exec produce with DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, along with Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey of ImageMovers.

Showtime execs are high on the project, revolving around the notorious Italian noble family that ran amok during the Renaissance, but have yet to formally greenlight a pilot. The pay cabler is in the market for a historical costume drama as it prepares to bid farewell to “The Tudors” after its fourth and final season runs in the spring.

Jordan’s project is the second Borgias project to emerge this year. Tom Fontana, Chris Albrecht and Anne Thomopoulos have been shepherding a Euro production that is awaiting a greenlight decision from the French and German banners set to finance the 12-episode project (Daily Variety, Feb. 27).

Jordan has been pursuing a feature project on the notorious Italian noble family for years. He most recently had Colin Farrell and Scarlett Johansson attached to star in a project for ImageWorks (Daily Variety, Nov. 3, 2005).

DreamWorks principal Stacey Snider is credited with suggesting that Jordan’s vision might be better served as a pay TV series rather than a feature. There’s a wealth of material in the story of Rodrigo Borgia, who served as Pope Alexander VI from 1492-1503 before dying suddenly (reportedly after drinking from a bottle of his own poisoned wine), and his murderous and larcenous children Lucrezia, Cesare and Juan. Cesare’s efforts to become ruler of Italy helped inspire Macchiavelli’s treatise on ruthlessness, “The Prince.”

Perhaps it’s appropriate to the material that there may be a Borgias brawl brewing for the Jordan and Fontana projects. Fontana recently turned in revised drafts of the first two segs, and a final greenlight decision from backers Lagardere Entertainment and Canal Plus, among others, is expected to come within a few weeks. The plan is to shoot the series in English to facilitate its sale to a U.S. outlet.

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