Sky's push into original content has been pretty relentless over the last couple of years. Indeed, in the last 12 months alone we've been introduced to compelling dramas like Fortitude and Critical, as well as hilarious comedies like Hunderby and new series of Mid Morning Matters and Moone Boy. Put simply, Sky are on a roll when it comes to new TV. It's a response to the Netflix's and Amazon Prime's of the world, who are gaining in popularity by making fantastic, uncompromised TV and a copy of what HBO are doing in America and what Canal + are doing in France. Now, in an almost unprecedented move all three of those TV providers are teaming up on a production together - The Young Pope.
Directed by Academy Award winning Paolo Sorrentino, The Young Pope is an eight-episode drama series about the beginning of the fictional PIUS XIII's Pontificate. Born Lenny Belardo, he was a complex and conflicted character, so complex in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet so full of compassion towards the weak and poor. He was a man of great power who was stubbornly resistant to the Vatican courtiers and unconcerned with the implications that his authority brought. The series will see Belardo face losing those closest to him and the fear of being abandoned by both man and God whilst he undertakes the mission of defending that same God and representing his word to the world.
Production on the series begins this week and all eight episodes will be directed by Sorrentino. The original announcement informed us that Academy Award nominee Jude Law was to take on the role of PIUS XIII, but we didn't have any more casting information. Now, we know that Diane Keaton has joined the cast as Sister Mary, a nun from the United States who is now living in Vatican City.
Keaton joins the cast as another example of just how ambitious this programme intends to be. With a long, storied and multi-award winning career behind her, she is an accomplished actor, director, producer and bestselling author. As an actor we know Keaton from The Godfather trilogy, Annie Hall, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Baby Boom, Father of the Bride and The First Wives Club. She was awarded an Academy Award for Annie Hall and was nominated for the honour for Something's Gotta Give, Reds and Marvin's Room. As a director her credits include Heaven, Unstring Heroes and Hanging Up whilst her production work includes Gus Van Sant's Elephant which won the Palm d'Or as well as On Thin Ice.
Describing the series, Paolo Sorrentino said: “The clear signs of God’s existence. The clear signs of God’s absence. How faith can be searched for and lost. The greatness of holiness, so great as to be unbearable when you are fighting temptations and when all you can do is to yield to them. The inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as Pontiff. Finally, how to handle and manipulate power in a state whose dogma and moral imperative is the renunciation of power and selfless love towards one’s neighbour. That is what The Young Pope is about.”
The series is being produced by Wildside and co-produced by Haut et Court TV and MEDIAPRO. The series is unlikely to air in 2015, but will probably see an early 2016 release on Sky Atlantic.
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