×

Paolo Sorrentino Creating ‘Young Pope’ Follow-Up, ‘The New Pope’

Show is not a 'Young Pope' second season

ROME — Lenny Belardo, the tormented American pontiff played by Jude Law in Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Young Pope,” is pope no more.

HBO and Sky have teamed up on “The New Pope,” a new limited series to be directed by Sorrentino that will not be a second season of “The Young Pope.” The show will be “set in the world of the modern papacy,” but HBO and Sky declined to release further details of the story.

The screenplay for “The New Pope” is being written by Sorrentino (pictured) and his frequent Italian co-writer Umberto Contarello, who was also a co-writer on “Young Pope,” according to a brief statement issued by HBO and Sky.

Plans are for “The New Pope” to go into production in Italy in late 2018. Casting for the show, including the title role, will start soon, the statement said.

“Just like ‘The Young Pope,’ Sorrentino is writing the script for the new show, but it will have a different twist than what would be expected,” Sky Italia chief of content Andrea Scrosati told Variety.

A rep for Sorrentino, who is a member of the Cannes Film Festival jury, said the director did not wish to add comment at this time.

The HBO and Sky joint production will be produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani for FremantleMedia-owned Wildside in co-production with Spain’s Mediapro Group. FremantleMedia International will be handling international sales. “The Young Pope” was sold to more than 110 territories.

Sorrentino, who won a foreign-language Oscar for “The Great Beauty,” will next shoot his announced film “Loro,” about Silvio Berlusconi, with actor Toni Servillo (“The Great Beauty”) cast in role of the Italian media tycoon-turned-prime minister. Shooting is tentatively scheduled to start in Italy this summer. “Loro” translates as “Them” and is a homonym with “L’oro,” which means “gold.”

Although Sky, HBO and Sorrentino have clearly decided to keep things under wraps, it’s clear that “The New Pope” is conceived somewhat similarly to anthology series such as “Fargo” and “True Detective,” which changed casts in their second seasons but retained elements of the first season’s original world. Sources say there will be certainly be elements in “The New Pope” that refer strongly back to “The Young Pope,” and some of the characters from the earlier show will return for the new series.

The big question, of course, is whether Lenny Belardo is dead. Sources say that a reappearance by Law in “The New Pope,” albeit in a much smaller role, has not been ruled out.

It’s also safe to say that the show will be primarily in English, as was “The Young Pope.” English-language writers are expected to be involved in the screenplay at a later stage.

“The Young Pope,” which was originated by Sorrentino, marked the first truly pan-European production for Rupert Murdoch-controlled Sky, and entailed a unique production model led editorially by Sorrentino and the Wildside team, with all the production done in Europe. HBO, Sky and France’s Canal Plus all teamed as co-producers on “Young Pope”

Canal Plus is not involved in “The New Pope” at this stage, but it is possible that the French paybox may come on board once the screenplay is completed.

More TV

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content