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"Its 'Gladiator'meets 'Deadwood'", said executive producer Rob "Xena" Tapert, about his new Starz Cable TV series "Spartacus", a retelling of the true Roman slave uprising story, first depicted by director Stanley Kubrick in 1960 for actor Kirk Douglas on the big screen.
But any similarities will end there as Tapert is quick to point out "ours will be a totally R-rated, hard, hard show."
Also on board the 13-episode series are executive producers Sam "Spider-Man" Raimi and Joshua Donen, with Steven S. DeKnight as head writer.
"We don't want to shy away from violence or sexuality," said DeKnight.
"The beauty of being on premium cable is there is no story we can't tell."
The series will start in New Zealand this year, budgeted at $2 million per episode. The 100% green-screen production will reportedly take visual cues from the comic-book stylings of films "Sin City" and "300".
'Spartacus', according to historians, was a slave who became a gladiator, then leader of an unsuccessful uprising against the Roman Republic known as the 'Third Servile War'. He was eventually killed and his followers crucified as a warning to other rebels.
Aside from the Kubrick adaptation of author Howard Fast's novel, USA Network produced a 2004 TV mini-series starring actor Goran Višnjić.
Yet DeKnight said they can still find a 'fresh balance' between realism and style.
"There's a gladiator fight in the first season of 'Rome' that I leaped off my couch when I saw it," DeKnight said.
"That will be more like what 'Spartacus' will be like."
Starz plans to premiere "Spartacus" fall 2009, while producers continue to search for an actor, ie. an "undiscovered action star" to fill the lead role...