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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.

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