The history of iconic British rockers The Beatles is to be charted in a new TV series, according to a U.S. report. Bosses at America's NBC network have allegedly recruited The Tudors creator and producer Michael Hirst to write a new series which will tell the story of John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr's rise to global superstardom.
The programme, which is still in the early stages of development, will see Hirst re-team with his fellow The Tudors executive producers Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg, and NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, who gave The Tudors the go-ahead when he ran the Showtime network, reports Deadline.com.
Bernard Walsh/History/A&E Networks
Vikings began its raid on the small screen last season, coming away with a bounty of ratings riches. Surprising everyone, the show became the number one new cable series of the year with an average of over 4 million viewers. Now Vikings is sailing back to the small screen with an ambitious, dark, and dangerous new season.
When we last left off our favorite raider Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) was battling with brother Rollo (Clive Standen) while complicating his love life. On a raid he spent time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) while at home his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was dealt the crushing blow of seeing daughter Gita die. And former monk Athelstan (George Blagden) was finally starting to take to the Viking way of life.
Hollywood.com was lucky enough to chat with Vikings stars Travis Fimmel, George Blagden, and Alyssa Sutherland to get the scope on Season 2. Here’s what they let slip:
Athelstan has embraced the Viking way of life... or has he?As the season begins, Athelstan has seemingly thrown his lot in with the Vikings entirely. But has he really given up on his Christian faith?
“We leave Athelstan in Season 1 in a very conflicted place. The most interesting characters to play as an actor and watch as an audience are the ones that have deep conflicts running throughout. It would have been far too easy to make Athelstan a completely converted pagan and gung-ho into Viking life,” actor George Blagden said about his character.
“What you see throughout the first few episodes of Season 2 is an attempt and potentially a bit of a bluff on his part. Hopefully what we’ve been able to capture this season is the ongoing conflict that Athelstan has.”
Ragnar’s love life gets complicatedWith his relationship with the tough-as-nails Lagertha on the rocks, Ragnar spends some quality time with the beautiful Princess Aslaug. The repercussions of their momentary fling are far-reaching in Season 2, especially when Aslaug shows up in town pregnant.
“He wants it to be like the Brady Bunch, Ragnar does,” star Travis Fimmel said about Ragnar’s hope of combining both families. “People are putting 21st century values on it, but that stuff happened back then. He had to give it a shot anyway, you know?”
Bjorn grows upSometime in the first four episodes, we jump forward in time four years. This allows little Bjorn to grow up into The Hunger Games actor Alexander Ludgwig.
“We loved Nathan O’Toole, he’s such a great little actor and we were really sad to see him leave. But Alexander’s fantastic too, so he was very well replaced,” Fimmel said. “And he’s a big, big boy. He grows quick in four years.”
Lagertha changes in Season 2Her husband’s betrayal and her daughter's death lead to a much different Lagertha in Season 2.
“Lagertha seems to be chasing a bit more power now,” Fimmel said. “She wants to be Earl. She’s had a taste of power and she’s more about that now.”
Aslaug isn’t a homewreckerAslaug’s appearance on the scene broke up power couple Ragnar and Lagertha, a relationship fans were already deeply invested in after only nine episodes.
“I think it’s really cool that we get to bring this idea to modern audiences,” actress Alyssa Sutherland said. “It’s interesting to me how they struggle with the idea and dilute it down into Aslaug being a “homewrecker” or the other woman, and I question whether that concept would have even existed back then. I like the complication of that storyline.”
Sutherland points out that Aslaug’s goal wasn’t to break up Ragnar and Lagertha when she shows up in town pregnant.
“It seems like a bold move, but what other pregnant chick wouldn’t chase down the baby daddy?”
But Aslaug might have special powersThe world of Vikings has always been filled with mysticism and Princess Aslaug is no different. In Season 2, we find out she might have the power of second sight.
“What I love about the way [writer and creator] Michael Hirst does it is you’re not totally sure if these magical elements that he weaves in every now and then are really happening or if it’s just what they believed at the time,” Sutherland said. “I like that it’s left up to the viewer to decide. I certainly think that Aslaug, whether she was a seeress or not, she certainly believed it and the people around her believed it.”
The season starts with a dramatic battle sceneSeason 2 gets off to a action-packed start with a full-tilt battle between brothers Ragnar and Rollo. But they’re not the only ones doing battle.
“The director shouted ‘cut’ and there was silence and you could just hear this giddy laughter soaring over the forest. And it was me, standing amongst the shield wall, just off my face on some adrenaline high,” said Blagden of his first Viking battle. “Because there’s no pretending; when they smash into the shield wall they really smash into the shield wall.”
Series star Fimmel remembers the dramatic season-opening battle a little differently though.
“Those two days we shot it were some of the hottest days on record in Ireland. A lot of people passed out that day and there were a few injuries,” Fimmel said. “That’s what I remember most about that day.”
Things remain complicated between Ragnar and Rollo How do you fix a relationship like Ragnar and Rollo’s? The two brothers have found themselves almost consistently at odds since the series began, since Rollo’s jealousy often transforms into betrayal.
“It’s going to be pretty hard to ever trust Rollo again,” Fimmel says. “But he’s blood and that’s an important thing to Ragnar. There are certainly big obstacles to overcome with Rollo. The two brothers have a good arc this season, and it’s a lot different from last season.”
Vikings returns for Season 2 on February 27 at 10 PM on the History channel. Will you be watching?
This Sunday, the maiden voyage of History Channel’s hit drama Vikings will come to a close — but before our characters can sail into a hiatus, they will have to face the rough waters of the Season 1 finale. To help prepare you for the journey ahead, Hollywood.com chatted with Clive Standen and he teased that this Sunday’s finale is packed with new problems and massive consequences.
Throughout the season, fans have watched as the two brothers have been fighting for power and control and now their conflicts are going to lead them to make some extremely difficult decisions in Sunday’s finale. “There are some massive choices that my brother and I — Rollo and Ragnar — have to make.” Standen tells Hollywood.com “They are at a crossroads whether they chose to stay together or go their separate ways; they’ll deal with the massive consequences.”
Standen says the he is excited for audiences to finally learn more about Rollo’s motives in the series. The actor explains, “Is he a Neanderthal? Is he actually quite Machiavellian? Is he the good guy? A lot of people have been saying that Rollo has done some questionable things and he’s lurking on being a traitor to Ragnar, but all I can say is as an actor you have to love the character you’re playing.”
The Vikings star continues, “Rollo has had a chance to take everything that Ragnar has got: his boat, his title, his work with Haraldson, to have Haraldson’s daughter and have that legacy — but he turned it all down to be loyal to his brother in the courtroom. He has done so much for Ragnar and the question that I want to ask everybody is what has Ragnar done for Rollo?”
Fans have been treated to some intensely brutal fights this season, so we made sure to ask the Vikings star if the finale will feature another heart-pounding battle. Standen reveals, “I think it’s more of a battle of wits, morale, and loyalty — there are a lot of massive decisions. There’s a lot of rapport and word play and lots of people going behind each others’ backs and lots of people manipulating people.”
Standen teases that all of these verbal backstabbing’s will eventually lead to a massive action-packed fight — but it wont be in the finale. “They’re setting it up for maybe a gigantic battle in series 2. There’s a little bit of a cliffhanger. And speaking of Season 2, Standen says that the creative forces behind Vikings are already hard at work on the sophomore season. “[Series Creator] Michael [Hirst] is working on the script and he is a genius. He tells you the information when you need it, he doesn’t want actors getting ahead of themselves — he’s a very good showrunner,” he says.
So what exactly does Standen know about the upcoming season? “There’s some crazy stuff that seems to be on the horizon and I’m really excited.” He continues, “Just having these little morsels of information just gets me so excited and I can’t wait to get back to Dublin and get to cracking on some skulls.” Standen says that the entire cast was thrilled when they learned Vikings was renewed for another year and they are eager to create ten phenomenal new episodes. “We’re all on the same page and we’re all so confident now that we’ve got a Season 2. I’m just really excited to let lose on this Rollo-coaster if you will,” The actor adds with a laugh.
Don’t miss the Season 1 finale of Vikings this Sunday at 10 PM on History.
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The actress, who plays teacher Will Schuester's manipulative ex-wife on Glee, has been added to the cast of U.S. cable network The History Channel's first scripted drama, titled simply Vikings.
Stellan Skarsgard's son Dustaf, Travis Fimmel and Katheryn Winnick will also join Irish actor Byrne in the mini-series, which is being written by Michael Hirst, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Byrne will play ruthless Viking tribesman Earl Haraldson in the period piece.
When it comes to enlivening entertainment, no one does it quite like Michael Mann. The 67-year-old filmmaker is capable of both grandiose set pieces and intimate character studies, bringing uncanny realism to larger than life scenarios and personalities. Though he's tackled many genres in more than thirty years in show business, with a signature visual style and a penchant for mature themes, his films are unmistakably his own.
He's now looking to make another Hollywood movie, but like most power players in Tinsel Town, is having a tough time figuring out which story to tell. Slash Film is reporting that Mann is juggling a handful of projects that are ready to move into production including Big Tuna, Agincourt and his untitled Robert Capa biopic. Read on for descriptions of each followed by my thoughts on what's the next logical move for Michael Mann.
According to the source, Big Tuna follows the life and times of elderly Chicago mobster Tony Accardo and his young successor Sam Giancana. Mann described the project as follows: "Here’s an older man who was the undisputed boss at a time when the Chicago outfit was the most powerful crime element in America. It becomes a classic tragedy of megalomania and hubris". Sounds like perfect territory for the man who told the stories of Cassius Clay and John Dillinger, and America will always show up in droves for a new gangster flick. Big Tuna will probably be easiest to get a greenlight from a major studio.
Mann is also flirting with Agincourt, a period action drama written by Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth). The film, based on Bernard Cromwell's novel of the same name, "focuses on a young man with a death sentence on his head who is saved when his skills with the bow catch the attention of King Henry V. The archer develops into a warrior and falls in love with a young woman whose virtue he saved from a lecherous priest, and he becomes the portal to the bloody Battle of Agincourt, made famous by Shakespeare’s Henry V". This one is significantly more ambitious than Big Tuna. Medieval movies haven't fared well at the box office as of late (Robin Hood and King Arthur come to mind) and with lots costumes and sets to build, they are increasingly expensive to produce (Ridley Scott's 2010 entry cost an eye-popping $200 million to make). Plus, Mann doesn't have an easily marketable title like "Robin Hood" or "King Arthur" to bring people to the theaters, making the investment all the more risky. Don't count on this one coming to the big screen just yet.
The most interesting project that Michael Mann is developing is a biopic of photojournalist Robert Capa, who captured images of no less than five wars throughout his career and founded the world’s first freelance photography organization, Magnum Photos. Though reenacting a series of wars over the course of many years would be a painstaking and pricey endeavor, I think that there would be a sizable audience for a film about such an interesting individual. With the right actor portraying Capa (Joaquin Phoenix, should he ever return from the Dark Side, would be fantastic in this role), there could be lots of cash to earn and awards to attain from Waiting For Robert Capa (a tentative title for the film, I believe).
Now's your chance to tell us what you would like Michael Mann to focus on next. Sound off!
Source: Slash Film, The Financial Times