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Thread: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

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    Senior Member Senior Member Longshanks's Avatar
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    Default The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    Anyone else looking forward to this?

    The Rise Of 'Rome'

    HBO's new TV series wasn't built in a day.
    By Dana Thomas

    Newsweek International

    April 4 issue - Niobe, the wife of one of Caesar's soldiers, wanders down a crowded cobblestone passage in the filthy, overcrowded slums of ancient Rome to make amends with her scorned sister, Lyde, a butcher. Their disagreement, naturally, is over a man. The market heaves with activity—hawkers sell live chickens, rabbits and partridges—as Niobe reaches out to touch Lyde's arm. Lyde recoils in anger and runs to the back of her shop. "Cut!" yells Steve Shill, one of the half-dozen rotating directors of "Rome," the sprawling new HBO-driven television series set in 52 to 44 B.C., now wrapping up filming at the famed Cinecitta Studios outside Rome. The slums are part of a gigantic set built on two hectares and in six soundstages—the largest in Cinecitta's history—that also includes replicas of the Forum, the Senate, the Temple of Jupiter and even the facade of Alexandria Harbor in Egypt. "The scale is enormous and incredibly ambitious," says Frank Doelger, one of the show's executive producers. "HBO wanted to create what Rome looked, felt and smelled like and how people lived their lives. We're trying to break away from the historical pageant or stuffiness of typical epics."


    With its astounding $100 million budget, cast of relative unknowns and multinational production team, "Rome" is breaking the rules of television, too. The onslaught of digital and Web television has caused a steep decline in viewership for networks and major cable channels all over the world. "Television is spread out across so many channels now that it is getting more difficult to get people to tune in to a regular weekly series," says Adrian Edwards, consultant for DGA Metrics, a media-research company in London. "Because of that, there is a movement toward big-event programming—shows that get a lot of hype which draws audiences to tune in."

    "Rome" should be a good lure. When writers Bill MacDonald and John Milius first proposed the story—about two soldiers in Caesar's 13th legion, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo—as a mini-series to HBO back in 1998, the pay-cable network's executives immediately saw a larger potential: they commissioned the first 12 episodes as well as an outline for a possible five-year run. Eventually the BBC and Italy's RAI joined in, recognizing the project's global appeal. The one-hour weekly series is scheduled to air on HBO in the United States in early fall and on the BBC a few weeks later; other markets—including Italy, France, Germany and Australia—will follow. Like HBO's other high-profile series "The Sopranos," "Sex and the City" and "Deadwood," "Rome" pushes the limits of violence, profanity and nudity. "It's very elemental—a lot of fire and flesh," says British hunk Ray Stevenson ("King Arthur"), who plays Pullo. "Just like Rome."

    Once greenlighted, the production went into high gear. HBO chose to film at Cinecitta because, as Doelger explains, "the quality of light in Rome is extraordinary; they have such brilliant craftsmen here and the extras have such great Roman faces and a boundless enthusiasm." The rest of the cast is primarily British, most from theater or television; the directors are mainly Americans and Europeans culled from the HBO stable. Renowned film costumer April Ferry went to India for 10 days and returned to Cinecitta with reams of silk, linen and cotton, which she and her team fashioned into a staggering 3,000 costumes, ranging from the shredded rags of the poor to Cleopatra's layered chiffon royal robes. Set construction began in November, took four months and cost $11 million—far beyond any ordinary television budget. With the directors doing complicated multiple-camera shots with 35mm movie cameras instead of the usual television videocams, "Rome" is "a one-hour movie that appears on television once a week," says Stevenson. "The only difference between this and a movie is, we do the complicated shots in three days instead of two weeks."

    Besides raising the bar for international television, "Rome" has revitalized Cinecitta, a once thriving studio that has languished since the golden age of Italian cinema ended some 30 years ago. While production has lately picked up a bit at the 67-year-old studio—both "The Passion of the Christ" and "Gangs of New York" were filmed there—"Rome" has created regular work for scores of technicians and artisans, many of whom are second- and third-generation Cinecitta employees. And if all goes as executives hope, it will keep the studio—and the actors—busy for years to come. "When I first signed my contract in a corner office of Cinecitta, I felt incredibly faint," admits Scotsman Kevin McKidd, who plays Vorenus. "But this is completely unprecedented work and we're in Rome, which is brilliant. I'll probably look back at this as the most incredible period of my career." And it may well prove to be an extraordinary time for television as well.

    © 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7296366/site/newsweek/

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    Senior Member Senior Member Oaty's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    It's nice you brought this up but I don't think this will be too historical. Frontroom maybe?
    When a fox kills your chickens, do you kill the pigs for seeing what happened? No you go out and hunt the fox.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Longshanks's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    Quote Originally Posted by oaty
    It's nice you brought this up but I don't think this will be too historical. Frontroom maybe?
    I don't know, HBO has good track record in that regard. Both Band of Brothers & Deadwood stayed fairly true to history.

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    robotica erotica Member Colovion's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    I'm buying this as soon as I can. Band of Brothers shows the amazing quality that goes into HBO's historical drama's.
    robotica erotica

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    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    The one-hour weekly series is scheduled to air on HBO in the United States in early fall and on the BBC a few weeks later
    Any idea of more specific dates? Should be a good project if the BBC are behind it. They rarely disapoint and plus if it is broadcast by BBC it means absolutely no annoying (no-volume levelling) adverts every 5 minutes like on most Sat-Tel channels.
    Ah, British quality production paid for by the Americans, filmed in Italy. A perfect world.
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    Mad Professor Senior Member Hurin_Rules's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Rise of 'Rome' (HBO & BBC miniseries)

    John Milius also directed Conan the Barbarian (the good one, not the awful sequel Conan the Destroyer). So it could be fun.
    "I love this fellow God. He's so deliciously evil." --Stuart Griffin

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