"Rome" might not be history, series creator says

Mon Dec 1, 2008 1:05am EST
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The creator of CBS' red-hot police procedural "The Mentalist" has unfinished business in Italy.

Bruno Heller says he wants to produce a theatrical wrap-up to his critically beloved and prematurely canceled HBO drama "Rome."

"There is talk of doing a movie version," he said. "It's moving along. It's not there until it is there. I would love to round that show off."

The lavish period drama ran for two seasons on HBO, which co-produced the series with the BBC. With the final season of "The Sopranos" as its lead-in, the first season was solidly rated, but high production costs presented the network with a tough call on the pickup. HBO opted for a second season to help get more value from its initial investment but not a third, effectively canceling the show in summer 2006 before the second season debuted the following January. The "Rome" sets were destroyed, and the actors were released from their contracts, making the decision all but irreversible.

Season 2 of "Rome" was a surprise. Although slightly lower-rated than the first, the show did remarkably well without a "Sopranos" lead-in. The first season received four Emmy Awards, and another seven Emmys were heaped upon the final season.

Suddenly "Rome" was a Greek tragedy: a hit show with no future. The broadcast networks quickly snatched up the show's leads for their top fall pilots.

HBO executives have since admitted that axing the show probably was a mistake.

One seeming drawback to revisiting the show after its wrap is the demise of a key lead character, Lucius (Kevin McKidd). Yet Heller reveals that the character's off-camera fate was far from fatal.   Continued...

<p>Actors dressed as ancient Romans wait to play on the set of "Rome" at Rome's famed Cinecitta' studios May 3, 2004. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>