Tom Fontana has been tapped to pen a series about the notorious Borgia clan that Chris Albrecht will exec produce for Gallic production shingle Lagardere Entertainment and Canal Plus.
The series' 12-episode first season will be shot in English to facilitate worldwide sales of the series, most importantly in the U.S. Albrecht, the former HBO chieftain, will shop the series to U.S. outlets. He's partnered with former HBO longform exec Anne Thomopoulos, who will also serve as an exec producer on "The Borgias."
Series is skedded to begin production in the fall in Europe. Casting will be handled out of London with an eye toward assembling a strong international ensemble. Lagardere's Atlantique Prods. banner will co-produce with Germany's EOS and the U.K.'s Helion Pictures.
The intent is to make "Borgias" an ongoing series that will track the Borgia family's amoral escapades in Spain and Rome during the height of the Renaissance, Thomopoulos said.
The Borgia clan is known for its reign of corruption and terror at the Vatican, when Rodrigo Borgia served as Pope Alexander VI from 1492-1503. During his reign as pope, he acknowledged siring several illegitimate children while he'd served as a cardinal, offspring that included the famously murderous and larcenous Lucrezia and Cesare.
Albrecht and Thomopoulos were recruited into the project by Helion topper Steven Bawol and Atlantique CEO Takis Candilis. Bawol had worked with the two HBO alums in the past, and knew they would have the right sensibilities to make "Borgias" a high-caliber production. Thomopoulos developed numerous costume dramas during her tenure at HBO, including the series "Rome," on which she also served as an exec producer.
Albrecht and Thomopoulos knew that Fontana had long been trying to get a historical drama going on the Borgias, so he was a natural choice to recruit to write a number of the episodes and serve as an exec producer. Fontana produced the gritty prison drama series "Oz" during Albrecht's run as HBO programming chief.
"This was the perfect opportunity for the three of us to work together again," Thomopoulos said. "A historical drama like this has to start with a great story. Tom has an incredible fascination for this period."