Starz Entertainment has acquired U.S. television rights to Tandem Communications' ground-breaking eight-hour television adaptation of Ken Follett's bestselling novel The Pillars of the Earth. Starz will air the series, produced by Tandem Communications, Muse Entertainment and Ridley and Tony Scott's Scott Free Films, as a summer event.
The $40 million series is directed by three-time DGA award-winner Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Heroes, Into the West) and was shot on location in Hungary and Austria with a star-studded cast including: Ian McShane (Deadwood, Sexy Beast), Rufus Sewell (The Illusionist, A Knight's Tale), Matthew Macfadyen (Ridley Scott's upcoming Robin Hood, Pride and Prejudice), Eddie Redmayne (The Yellow Handkerchief, The Good Shepherd), Hayley Atwell (The Duchess), Sarah Parish (Merlin), Donald Sutherland (Dirty Sexy Money, The Italian Job), Alison Pill (Milk) and Gordon Pinsent (Away From Her)
The Pillars of the Earth is the first major programming deal made by Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht since joining the company in January. The deal was negotiated by Starz Media Deputy General Counsel, SVP Business & Legal Affairs Marc Barson and TANDEM Communications' Partner/Managing Director Rola Bauer. Starz plans to air the series this July, under the Starz Originals banner, kicking off with a two-hour premiere, followed by six one-hour episodes.
"I'm a believer in the power of event television, so The Pillars of the Earth is precisely the kind of programming I want to showcase on Starz," Albrecht says. "With a strong cast, stunning direction, a compelling story based on an international best-selling book and a terrific team of producers, The Pillars of the Earth is set to be one of the must-watch programs this summer."
"We are thrilled to have found such an ardent supporter of this wonderful project in Chris Albrecht and his team at Starz. Chris has always created and appreciated quality content and understands how best to market it. We could not have found a better home," says Bauer.
"Ken Follett's storytelling artistry presents a richness and brilliance we dream about when searching for outstanding properties for event television," says Ridley Scott of Scott Free. "The eight-hour television adaptation of his monumental novel The Pillars of the Earth is everything we could have hoped for and we're extremely happy that Starz will be presenting 'Pillars' to a U.S. audience."
"I am delighted with the series of The Pillars of the Earth - script, cast, direction, everything - and thrilled that it is going to be shown on Starz", world-renowned author Ken Follett says.
Visibility for the television production has already been greatly enhanced through relationships forged by Tandem with both Oprah.com and Ken-Follett.co.uk. These sites, along with the dedicated Pillars site - The-Pillars-of-the-Earth.tv - are updated regularly and include vast production information, video web diaries and a monthly blog written by Ken Follett.
The Pillars of the Earth is a sweeping epic of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty, a sensuous, spirited story set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles in 12th Century England. Ken Follett's book, first published in 1989, has sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and been published in more than 30 languages. The 60th selection in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club, the books sold upwards of 1.4 million copies in the U.S. the day after it was featured on her show in 2007.