News: Starz to air The Pillars of the Earth in the US July 2010

The Pillars of the Earth, a Canada/Germany co-production, has been bought by Starz for an American airing.  The miniseries, based on the 1989 Ken Follett novel, will debut with a 90-minute premiere in July 2010.  Six 45-minute episodes will follow.

The $40 million series is a co-production between Muse Entertainment, Tandem Communications and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Films.  Donald Sutherland, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne, Hayley Atwell and Alison Pill star.

I’m not sure how Canadian The Pillars of the Earth is.  The Movie Network/Movie Central greenlit The Pillars of the Earth for its 2009-10 lineup, but it’s not straight CanCon like Call Me Fitz or Living in Your Car.  Donald Sutherland’s a main draw, as if that’s an unexpected casting choice in this country.

Much has been made of new Starz CEO/chairman Chris Albrecht’s first major programming decision.  Albrecht resigned as HBO CEO/chairman in 2007 after being arrested on assault charges in Las Vegas.

I don’t need to explain Albrecht’s tenure on HBO.  The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Deadwood…the man’s had a hand in all those series.  The Pillars of the Earth is supposed to be his opening salvo, as Starz attempts a war of pork swords with premium cable competitors HBO and Showtime.

A few years ago, I would have made jokes about Starz being the extra testicle of American premium cable.  It still is, but at least Starz is stepping up its game.  I’m just amazed to see the words “Canada,” “$40 million” and “television” in the same sentence.  High-budget Canadian television?  That’s almost oxymoronic, there.

C. Archer
Le Social