/// The Man From Oz Finds Religion

January 7, 2013  |  Media Week

The latest show from the creator of Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz is not on pay cable. Or cable at all, actually. Or broadcast. It’s called Borgia (not to be confused with Showtime’s The Borgias ), and it’s a twistier, more political take on the Renaissance-era family that produced two popes. In an unprecedented move, production company Atlantique hired Fontana to create the historical drama without a network—it’s already aired on French premium channel Canal+ —and now that it’s in Season 2, the Borgia team is trying to get some stateside attention. Believers already include Netflix Streaming and Amazon Instant Video. Adweek: How is this different from producing directly for a network? What’s remarkable to me about it is that there was a time when you couldn’t go to Europe and make a TV series unless it had a network or a studio attached to it. Atlantique said, “We just want to do this; all we want is an American showrunner. We don’t need the money; we just need the expertise.” And when they contacted me, I said, “Are you really serious about doing it the way they do in America?” Because my understanding is that in Europe, the writer is the least important person in the equation, and I said, “I really want to be in charge of everything. If you can live with that, I’m happy to spend time in the Czech Republic and go to casting sessions in Paris and London.” Where have you guys been picked up so far? It’s streamed on Netflix, but we want to try to get it out there on a more traditional level, just because obviously it’s also more money. But the amount of money they’re looking for—and I don’t know the exact numbers—is relatively low. The one thing that traditional television still has that none of [the streaming services] have is in-your-face, pop-culture-y recognition. It’s ironic because the show is a hit in 55 countries, just not America. So this isn’t a crime show. Well, you can just make them a bunch of popes who poisoned people and skulked around corners cackling about having killed Cardinal Orsini, but it’s boring to write

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The Man From Oz Finds Religion

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