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Showtime orders Jeremy Irons crime series 'Borgias'

TCA -- Showtime has given a 13-episode order to a new historical drama that sounds potentially very compelling -- "The Borgias," which will replace "The Tudors" after the latter drama's final season this spring.

The "Borgias" story is set in Italy in 1492. It follows a powerful crime family that's headed by patriarch Rodrigo Borgia, played by Jeremy Irons in his first regular TV series role. Sort of a Renaissance-era "Sopranos."

Michael Hirst, who wrote every episode of "Tudors," will run the project. Neil Jordan will executive produce and direct first two epiosdes.

"Having blazed a trail with the award-winning 'The Tudors,' we wanted to continue to offer our audience a period drama as wicked, witty and utterly compelling -- and that's what 'The Borgias' will be," said Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt. "I can guarantee you've never seen a family quite like this before, and nor could you make up the outrageous twists and turns of their epic saga."

"Borgias" will go into production this spring for an early 2011 debut. The order comes after Showtime announced another new series this week, Laura Linney's cancer dramedy "The Big C."