The end of the popular television series “Game of Thrones” is near, but one of the show’s producers has his sights set on China for his next project.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Newman, producer of the HBO fantasy series, had recently signed a deal with Starlight Media and K. Jam Media to develop and produce a new show titled “Empress.” Newman will exec produce the drama alongside Starlight Media chairman Xu Yan, CEO Peter Luo and Beely Lee as well as K. Jam CEO Kia Jam.
Starlight Media is a U.S.-based company founded in 2013 by Xu and next has feature “Marshall,” directed by Reginald Hudlin and produced by Paula Wagner. K. Jam Media is an independent film and TV production company based in Los Angeles and has financed or co-financed more than 20 movies and TV productions.
Starlight Media will fully finance the series — which carries an estimated budget of $70 million — and shop promote the project from K. Jam Media to broadcast networks after filming has been completed. While there is currently no set cast, production is set to begin in Sichuan, China, in late 2017 with a premiere eyed for 2018. The story is set to explore the story of Wu Zetian, China’s only female empress, and has been commissioned as a 13-episode drama.
Below is a brief synopsis of the upcoming historical drama:
“Empress” will tell the storied tale of the only female empress in the history of China — Wu Zetian, who ruled during the Tang dynasty (618-906 A.D.), a time of relative freedom for women. She was known for her wit, intelligence and humor as well as being ruthless, cunning and a political force to be reckoned with. The series will follow her ascent through the court of Emperor Tai Tsung; life as his favorite concubine — and ultimately her rise to power.
Expressing his excitement and happiness of the film project, Xu stated, “I am very happy to announce this partnership and am looking forward to working with this excellent creative team to bring the story of the Empress Wu to a global audience.” Jam added: “My partner Chris and I have already started to assemble a world-class team and are thrilled to be in business with our friends at Starlight Media. The story of the empress is a story of intrigue, history and power that provides a deep storytelling well that we hope will have numerous seasons to follow.”
The story of China’s only ruling empress has been done before, but the 2014 adaption starring Fan Bingbing as the titular character Wu Zetian received public chiding due to the Chinese government censoring scenes that showed heavy cleavage. As a result, the series was taken off the air for editing, resulting in zoomed in scenes so cleavage would not appear in the frame.
Wu Zetian, or Empress Wu, was a Chinese sovereign who ruled unofficially as Empress and later, officially as Emperor of China during the brief Zhou dynasty (684-705). Wu was the only female emperor of China in more than four millennia. She was originally a concubine of Emperor Tailing, however, after his death, she married his successor—his ninth son, Emperor Gaozong, officially becoming Gaozonrg’s empress consort. After Gaozong’s stroke in 660, Wu Zetian became administrator of the court, a position equal as emperor, until 705.
With Christopher Newman taking on the project, hopefully we will get a show that has a “Game of Thrones” vibe that will encompass everything from blood to cleavage (or even more).
As the series is currently upcast, this leaves the question of who will be cast. Which actors would you like to see sign on to this television series?
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter