Showtime Cancels ‘The Borgias’

Wednesday 5 June 2013

It’s official.  Showtime has announced that The Borgias has been cancelled and there will be no fourth season and no two-hour wrap-up movie.

The current third season of Showtime‘s medieval drama will be its last, with the June 16 season finale serving as series finale.

The series was originally envisioned as going for four seasons, matching the run of predecessor The Tudors. But while filming a pivotal scene in the Season 3 finale, Jordan said Irons turned to him and told him that “this feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.” While mulling a potential fourth season, Jordan said he wasn’t sure he had enough material for 10 episodes and wasn’t sure whether Showtime would want to commit to another season either. ”As a compromise, I proposed to finish the arc of all the characters with a two-hour movie,” Jordan said, adding that Showtime commissioned the script and he wrote it. “When they looked at what it could cost, it was just too expensive,” he said. “Sadly, that’s what happened. I would have loved to bring all the characters to a conclusion. All of the actors were heartbroken we couldn’t continue, and so was I.” Jordan said he still likes where the story currently ends with the third season finale, especially for siblings Cesare and Lucrezia, and thanked Showtime for supporting  his vision.Doing a standalone movie to wrap the big-budget Borgias would’ve been hard to pull off not only from a production but also from a marketing and promotion standpoint. “Ultimately the show was designed as a regular series, and I was reluctant to do an extra two-hour disconnected from the whole that could be potentially anti-climactic,” Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins said. “Now we have a nice upward build towards the finale. We have a nice ending, a good climax, and I didn’t want to muck it up with an afterthought.”

Read more:

The Hollywood Reporter

Deadline

TV | Line

Variety

The Borgias has been renewed for Season 2

from Variety.com

Posted: Mon., Apr. 25, 2011, 3:55pm PT

Showtime renews ‘The Borgias’

Second season of 10 episodes to air in 2012

By Jon Weisman

Barely three weeks after its premiere, historical drama “The Borgias” has earned a 10-episode second season from Showtime.

Starring Jeremy Irons, “The Borgias” has outpaced the final season of Showtime ancestor “The Tudors” in viewership. Production will begin this summer on the second season of “Borgias,” with a 2012 premiere date targeted.

Neil Jordan will continue as exec produce as well as direct the first two episodes of season two. David Leland will also write several episodes and direct a pair.

Jeremy Irons Wall Street Journal Interview

The Wall Street Journal

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
MARCH 25, 2011

Feeling Wrong for the Role, at First
By AMY CHOZICK

Read the original article here – Wall Street Journal Online

Thirty years after he played Charles Ryder in the British miniseries “Brideshead Revisited,” actor Jeremy Irons takes on another TV role that involves Catholicism, opulence and distrust: Rodrigo Borgia, the scheming patriarch and corrupt Pope Alexander VI in Showtime’s “The Borgias,” premiering April 3.

Watch a scene from Showtime’s new drama ‘The Borgias.’ The series stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI. Courtesy Showtime.

Mr. Irons, 62, is perhaps best known for film roles including Claus von Bülow in “Reversal of Fortune,” for which he won an Oscar, and Humbert Humbert in “Lolita.” He also starred in TV miniseries like the 2009 Lifetime biopic “Georgia O’Keeffe” with Joan Allen and “Elizabeth I,” with Helen Mirren.

His deep, languid voice is currently in theaters as the narrator of wildlife documentary “The Last Lions.” (He voiced the villain Scar in “The Lion King.”) In “Margin Call,” an upcoming film about the financial crisis, Mr. Irons plays an embattled Wall Street CEO based on Lehman Brothers’ Richard Fuld.

Mr. Irons was reluctant to commit to an ongoing TV series, but the nine-episode cable run and the fact that Irish director Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”) would write and direct “The Borgias,” convinced him.

The Wall Street Journal: Why is “The Borgias” being touted as a kind of medieval version of “The Godfather”?

Mr. Irons: There’s an element in common in that Don Corleone was an Italian in America. Rodrigo is a Spaniard in Rome. Yes, that element of the manipulator and the immigrant trying to find power and how to hold onto it and influence people as the head of the family. But those parallels don’t run very deep. I think it’s sort of a marketing idea Showtime had. [Mario] Puzo wrote a novel ["The Family"] about the Borgias, of course.

You’ve said you don’t think you’re right for the role of Rodrigo. Why not?

Neil [Jordan] said “Do you want to play Rodrigo Borgia?” I got home and Googled him and I told him “Christ, you don’t want me. You need James Gandolfini.” I could think of four or five actors who would physically be right for the role. I said “I can’t play that guy.” I have an aesthetic quality that is expected from a pope, whereas this guy was a big, sweaty Spaniard with a big appetite—a lot of food, a lot of women.

So why did you change your mind?

Neil said “No, it’s all about power and how power corrupts you and how you manipulate it. No one knows what he really looked like.” So he convinced me.

Even though Rodrigo is an evil megalomaniac, there’s some humor in him. Did you bring that to it?

I think it’s all in Neil’s writing. There’s sort of a natural amusingness about the situation which one doesn’t have to play. You just do what you do and it brushes off on somebody and there’s a smile there.

Speaking of humor, why wasn’t the 1997 film version of “Lolita” you starred in funnier? The book is very funny.

That book is full of irony. I think we were so nervous about the subject when we were making it that we were walking on egg shells. We could have used a lot more irony. The Kubrick version had more irony but it missed a lot of other things.

In addition to “The Borgias,” you’ve recently done a couple of episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” How did that come about?

Well, “SVU” is a different kettle of fish. I was in Budapest finishing “The Borgias” and they asked and I said I don’t know the show. They sent me an episode with Robin Williams and one with Isabelle Huppert. I said “This is good, it’s fine. It is what it is.” For an actor it feels a little like you’ve just finished reading Proust and you think “I’m going to read a Dick Francis novel and it will take me a day and be great.”

“The Tudors” did very well for Showtime but it got criticism for being soft porn in costumes. Will “The Borgias” have as much sex and nudity?

No. There are a lot of channels doing that. I think we can do better than that. This adaptation, for example, and there have been loads, doesn’t fall into the trap of writing all these stories about incest. In those days whole families used to sleep in the same bed. It’s better to get inside characters, who they are and why they do what they do than to make it sensationalist.

You seem to regularly go from film to TV to theater. Which do you prefer?

It’s just the material. They all have good things about them and they all have bad things about them. Theater is great because you can really stay in one place and work on the character in depth over a long period. It doesn’t pay as much as movies, but is often better written. The problem with TV is people are watching soccer at the same time. I’m really lucky to hop around. I’m a jobbing actor.

How is developing a character for TV different from one for film?

The huge luxury is time. A two-hour movie—and, if you’re lucky, it’s two hours—you can tell a story but it’s hard to develop the inconsistencies of a character and have time to bring all those inconsistencies together.

Are you Catholic?

My wife is. My children are. I don’t belong to clubs.

It may shock a lot of Catholics to see a Pope who behaves like Rodrigo Borgia.

Well, the medieval mind would’ve had no problem with a pope who has a mistress. Why do you expect him to be a God? He’s not a God. He’s a man, with all the weaknesses and failures. [Today] we expect our leaders to be squeaky clean and when they turn out to be normal people with normal desires, we say this person shouldn’t be our leader. Man is just doing his best.

Have you discussed a second season with Showtime?

We have a little. Neil has talked to me about some ideas. It’s hard to get the Pope out of the Vatican. I’m very grateful Showtime was hands-off when we were shooting. They left us alone. I hope that will continue because I don’t think you can make movies or TV series by committee.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D5

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The enduring charm of the Borgias

The enduring charm of the Borgias

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/the-enduring-charm-of-the-borgias-2247598.html

One of history’s most notorious families is returning to TV – this time with a class cast. Sarah Hughes has a preview…

Monday 21, March 2011

When in Rome: Jeremy Irons stars in the costume drama 'The Borgias' When in Rome: Jeremy Irons stars in the costume drama ‘The Borgias’.

As The Tudors rollicks towards its final episodes, complete with extra wheezing from Jonathan Rhys Myers as the declining Henry VIII, fans of ludicrous yet oddly addictive historical dramas are feeling a slow-burning sense of loss. How will we spend our Saturday nights now that Rhys Meyers, his incredible cheekbones and his distinctly odd way of Declaiming. Each. Sentence. As. Though. He. Was. Learning. To. Read. For. The. First. Time. are no longer with us?

Luckily there is hope on the horizon, for Showtime, the channel that originally commissioned The Tudors, is clearly aware that some of us can never have too much frippery, flouncing and fornication on our television shows, provided that is that they come accompanied with suitably ripe dialogue and the weight of history on their side.

So it is that the US cable channel has headed to 15th-century Rome for its latest drama, a new take on one of history’s most notorious families, the ambitious, murderous Borgias. On paper this is a brilliant idea with the potential for much mayhem, blood, guts, poisoning and heaving of breasts – and Showtime’s extended trailer for the new show, which begins in the US on 3 April before coming to Sky Atlantic in July, certainly plays up to the family’s reputation with rousing music, close-ups of a sorrowful yet sinister Jeremy Irons, the suggestion of dark deeds afoot, and the snappy tagline: “The Original Crime Family”.

So far, so satisfying. However, any new version of the Borgias raises an old spectre: will it be as bad as the infamous 1981 BBC adaptation, which was reckoned to have killed costume drama at the BBC for the best part of a decade?

That 10-part series was infamous for the graphic (for its time) nudity and violence and for a particularly memorable scene where half-naked actors crawled across the floor picking up chestnuts with their mouths. By the time the Vatican issued an edict condemning the BBC’s The Borgias the only question asked by anyone with any taste was what on earth took them so long?

Thankfully, the new Borgias looks like it will actually be rather good. Jeremy Irons, who plays the power-crazed Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia later to become one of history’s most infamous Popes, has a whale of time. His Rodrigo, all hissing sibilants and subtle suggestions, wields his power quietly yet absolutely, more Godfather Part II-era Michael Corleone than Tony Soprano.

While Irons dominates, the rest of the cast, which includes Derek Jacobi and Colm Feore as Rodrigo’s rivals, Joanne Whalley as his principal mistress, Vanozza dei Cattanei, and a couple of brooding bruisers (François Arnaud and David Oakes) as his murderous sons Cesare and Juan Borgia, are no slouches and manage to sell some fairly baroque moments involving the campaign for the new Pope, which could easily teeter into Monty Python-esque parody.

That they don’t is also thanks to the involvement of the idiosyncratic Irish director Neil Jordan, who is the series’ co-creator and will direct the first two episodes. The Borgias is something of a pet project for Jordan who has been trying to make a film about the family, described as “The Godfather set in the Vatican” since 2000.

That said The Borgias is also the work of Michael Hirst, the man behind The Tudors and the scriptwriter for Elizabeth and Elizabeth: the Golden Age. Hirst, a man who never met a period of history he couldn’t joyfully sex up, is the sort of wilfully over-the-top writer whom you either love or despise.

Should historical drama be accurate? The only sane answer is yes but Hirst has so much fun proving the opposite that it’s hard not to get swept along. His involvement suggests that this Borgias might be more Rome than I, Claudius, more Tudors than Elizabeth R but it’s also the case that even if the series does turn out to be tosh, it will be lavishly shot, lovely to look at and completely addictive tosh.

The Borgias: 15th-century Sopranos for a 21st-century audience

From the Toronto Globe and Mail
(Photos follow the article)

The Borgias: 15th-century Sopranos for a 21st-century audience
ELIZABETH RENZETTI
BUDAPEST— From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

‘Put down your hot dogs and put on your helmets!” the first assistant director barks, an order relayed in Hungarian to two hundred lunching extras who have grabbed a very quick break on the set of the upcoming miniseries The Borgias. Dutifully, the Hungarians – who are dressed as 15th-century French soldiers – put away their cellphones, cigarettes and frankfurters, take up their helmets and pikes, and march haphazardly toward one of history’s wickedest women.

Except that Lucrezia Borgia, as played by British actress Holliday Grainger, looks less like an (allegedly) murderous, incestuous schemer than a 20th-century pop princess, all pink cheeks and lush blonde hair. Lucrezia sits on her black horse, looking across a Hungarian field which, thanks to the miracles of CGI, will be filled on television screens with thousands of soldiers of the Papal army, led by Lucrezia’s brother Juan (whose minor crimes, including military incompetence and seducing his brother’s wife, make him the good Borgia.)

The Borgias were the Sopranos of the 15th century, and the producers of the nine-part miniseries are clearly hoping, come next spring, to fill the gaping hole in torture, sex, historical semi-accuracy and codpieces left when The Tudors finished its hugely successful run. But mention the T-word on the set of the Canadian co-production and you run the risk of being run through.

“I’m not allowed to say it’s more tasteful than the Tudors,” says David Oakes, the British actor who plays Juan Borgia, with an impish smile. “It’s very different. If The Tudors started to make period drama accessible to Americans on television, then this is a step up again. This is film quality.”

Of course, that includes the odd hot poker and heaving bosom. Producer James Flynn worked on both shows and while he acknowledges The Borgias is trying to replicate The Tudors’ appeal to a young, male audience, he insists the new show is painted on a wider canvas: “There’s intrigue and sex and violence, it’s a heady cocktail that should attract a large audience. But it’s really about the journey of a ruthless man with huge ambition … It’s about family, it’s about loyalty.”

At the head of the family is Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI, the first pope to openly acknowledge his illegitimate children. (He especially favoured the useless Juan: You could say he put all his ego in one bastard.) As wily as he is licentious, Borgia was once described by Alexandre Dumas as “the most perfect incarnation of the devil that perhaps ever existed.”

“Well, yes,” says Jeremy Irons, who plays Rodrigo, with a not entirely pious smile. “But history belongs to the winners, doesn’t it? And the Borgias had many enemies, because they were Spanish interlopers.”

The Borgias is the baby of Irish director Neil Jordan, who has dreamed for 20 years of making a movie about the Spanish upstarts who arrived like a hurricane in Rome, and came to rule the Catholic church through a recipe of murder, intimidation, bribery and the occasional orgy. It is said that Mario Puzo based The Godfather on the family of Rodrigo Borgia and his bloodthirsty children.

Jordan wrote all nine episodes and directed the first four. The quality of the series extends to the high Canadian content in cast and crew, including director Jeremy Podeswa, Montreal actor François Arnaud as the diabolical Cesare, and, as the Borgia nemesis Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, Stratford’s Colm Feore.

Della Rovere, who went on to become Pope Julius II, is only moderately corrupt and ambitious, which makes him the good guy of the piece. “The Borgias are heinous, no question, but so was everybody at this period,” says Feore, dressed in severe black vestments, an anachronistic plastic cup of apple cider in hand. “There was a lot of truly corrupt, horrible stuff going on. My guy wasn’t a whole lot better but he did have perhaps a stronger moral centre.”

Feore and the other actors have been shooting near Budapest since July. The $45-million production, which will debut on Showtime in the United States in early April and then Bravo and CTV shortly after, is an American-Irish-Hungarian-Canadian co-production, cobbled together with talent and financing from those countries. Hungary has become a magnet for large-scale miniseries like The Borgias and The Pillars of the Earth because it offers tax breaks, medieval landscapes largely free from cell-phone towers, and crews that are technically knowledgeable while not requiring the same concessions as their North American counterparts.

On this cool October day, for example, the crew don’t actually stop for a lunch break but grab hot dogs or buns that are, quite literally, tossed their way. As with any ambitious television production, they’re racing the clock and hoping to wrap the outdoor scenes while the weather is good. On a nearby soundstage, two hundred carpenters have built a miniature Rome, not in a day, but in a few months.

At that time, everybody who could hold a paintbrush or write a treatise passed through Rome, which allows The Borgias to indulge in a type of storytelling you might call Hits of the Renaissance. The script contains roles for Whore Number One and Arrogant Young Nephew, but also for Savonarola and Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli, who based his political treatise The Prince on Cesare Borgia. “I had dinner with Machiavelli and Medici the other day,” Feore says. “Fabulous guys, really fun.”

While not attempting to bury nor praise the Borgias, Feore points out that in the late 15th century, Rome was in tatters, ruined and crime-ridden, and perhaps needed a strong arm like Rodrigo’s to make things run smoothly. And, of course, to bring God’s word to the infidels, by force if necessary.

The strong man always makes enemies, and sometimes war: This entire morning Feore’s been on his horse shooting a scene where della Rovere, the French King Charles VIII and their hostage Lucrezia prepare to battle Juan and the papal army. Two weeks before he left to join the production, Feore got a call: “Um … can you ride?” He took a few lessons in Stratford and discovered a professional affinity with horses: “They’re like actors,” he says. “They’re sort of pretty, most of them, but they’re stupid.”

On cue, Holliday Grainger gallops from the French King’s side and crosses the battlefield to convince her brother to surrender before he gets a holy drubbing. This is not actually how it happened in history; Rodrigo Borgia’s mistress and her companion were taken captive, not his daughter. But then, loins are already being girded against challenges of historical inaccuracy.

“There is poetic licence,” allows producer Flynn. “If they filmed what actually happened,” says Feore, “it would be condemned as an improbable fiction.” Oakes, the young actor playing Juan, offers just one example: The Chestnut Ball, a party organized by Pope Alexander VI, who hired all the courtesans in Rome to surround a field of chestnuts and pick them up … without using their hands. “If we showed that,” says Oakes, “people wouldn’t believe it.”

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‘The Borgias’ filming at Korda Studios

‘The Borgias’ will be filmed at the Korda Film Studios in Etyek, Hungary – 18 miles west of Budapest.

Korda Studios is happy to welcome the cast and crew of Showtime’s next large-scale new TV mini-series, ‘The Borgias’. The Canadian-Irish-Hungarian co-production will be working at Korda Studios, making use of numerous stages and a large portion of the extensive backlot set. Principal photography will begin in the summer.

Jeremy Irons paused to sign a couple of autographs in Budapest:

Jeremy Irons signs autographs in Budapest, Hungary
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Visit the Korda Studio’s website for more information, including a virtual tour of the studio complex, dressing rooms, hair and make-up rooms, offices, catering, etc.

Here’s a photo of sets being built on the backlot for ‘The Borgias’.


Photo from etyeknet.hu

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The Borgias – Promo clip screencaps

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The Borgias: Rattlesnake

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The Borgias: Power – new video clip from SHOWTIME

All video and images property of SHOWTIME.

more about “The Borgias: Power“, posted with vodpod

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SHOWTIME First Look at The Borgias – Screencaps

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