With the clock running out on cast options, Showtime has formally made the decision not to proceed with high profile drama pilot The Vatican. The move had been widely expected as, by most accounts, the pilot didn’t come in as strong as everyone expected given its pedigree. Written by Paul Attanasio, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Kyle Chandler, The Vatican was described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. While it is not going forward, I hear Showtime brass is high on its other two pilots, drama The Affair and Philip Seymour Hoffman-starring comedy Happyish (formerly Trending Down), with series pickup decisions pending. Showtime also has upcoming direct-to-series genre drama Penny Dreadful. The network can be very picky in its series choices because of its strong track record, with all new scripted shows under entertainment president David Nevins launching successfully, including Homeland, House Of Lies, Ray Donovan and Masters Of Sex.
He played a fallen Angel in Wim Wenders’ Wings Of Desire and now Bruno Ganz will play the Pope in Showtime’s drama pilot The Vatican. The Swiss-born actor, who also played Adolf Hitler in 2004′s Downfall, will take on the Holy garments as the soft-spoken, fictional Sixtus VI in the pilot, from Paul Attanasio and Ridley Scott. Ganz takes on his Papal role just two days after the real new Pope Francis I was elected and joins Pushing Daisies‘ Anna Friel and Kyle Chandler in the thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic Church. Chandler plays the progressive New York Cardinal Thomas Duffy, and Friel plays his very secular, hard-living younger sister. Matthew Goode as Papal Secretary Bernd Koch and Sebastian Koch as Cardinal Marco Malerba also star in the drama, which begins production in April. Sony Pictures TV is producing with Scott Free and Showtime.
Pushing Daisies‘ Anna Friel is eyeing a return to American television with a co-starring role opposite Kyle Chandler in The Vatican, Showtime‘s high-profile drama pilot from Paul Attanasio and Ridley Scott. Said to evoke The Sopranos and Upstairs, Downstairs, Vatican is described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. Friel will play Kayla Duffy, the younger sister of Cardinal Thomas Duffy (Chandler). Unlike her brother, Kayla is a sexually active, hard-partying New Yorker. The Vatican, which co-stars Matthew Goode as Papal Secretary Bernd Koch and Sebastian Koch as Cardinal Marco Malerba, will begin production next month in Rome. Sony Pictures TV is producing with Scott Free and Showtime. Brit Friel, repped by UTA and Ken McReddie Assoc., has been sought for pilots since the end of ABC’s Pushing Daisies, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. This is the first pilot she has committed to.
In Showtime’s first pilot order for 2013, the pay cable network has greenlighted a high-profile drama from Oscar nominees Paul Attanasio and Ridley Scott. Titled The Vatican, the project is described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. Said to evoke The Sopranos and Upstairs Downstairs, the series will explore the relationships and rivalries as well as the mysteries and miracles behind one of the world’s most hidden institutions.
The Vatican, produced by Sony Pictures TV in association with Showtime and Scott Free, has been a passion project for House executive producer Attanasio, who has been working on it for a couple of years. His script started heating up at Showtime a few weeks ago, forcing Attanasio to pull out of the Rake series adaptation starring Greg Kinnear, which Sony TV was shopping. The pay cable network then proceeded with attaching an A-list director before giving the project a green light. I hear a quartet of top feature directors circled the drama, with Ridley Scott ultimately signing on for what will be his pilot directing debut. CAA-repped Attanasio and WME-repped Scott executive produce with Scott Free’s David Zucker (The Good Wife).