Marco Polo | 1981
Ten-hour dramatization (in four parts) of the Marco Polo odyssey, filmed in Italy, Morocco and the People's Republic of China, where it was the first western production to be made since the late 1940s, all at a hefty (by TV standards) cost of $10-million during a 13 month shooting schedule. Ken Marshall, a relative unknown who subsequently starred in the theatrical sword-and-sorcery film "Krull", has the lead role at the head of a cast of name stars. As Kublai Khan, one of China's leading actors, Ying Ruocheng, made his western debut. Ruocheng, who was forced into the provinces to perform manual labor during the Cultural Revolution, reportedly is his country's Toshiro Mifune. In 1983 he received further attention not only for his surprising fluency in English, but also in his capacity as co-director with Arthur Miller and star of "Death of a Salesman", the first American play to be staged in China since the Communist takeover after World War II.
Despite the less-than-enthusiastic critical reception of "Marco Polo", this Italian-made miniseries won the Emmy Award as the Outstanding Limited Series. Its other nominations were for photography (Part 4), production design and set decoration (Part 2), costume design (Part 3), and editing, hairstyles, and sound editing (all Part 4).