July 14, 2014 9:31am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Ben Kingsley to Star in Spike TV's King Tut Event Series
Spike TV is going big with its return to scripted fare.
The male-leaning cable network has enlisted Ben Kingsley to star in its six-part King Tut miniseries, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The limited series is based on the story of Tutankhamun, otherwise known as King Tut. Tut hails from Muse Entertainment, best known for Emmy-nominated The Kennedys as well as Pillars of the Earth. The company's Joel S. Rice and Michael Prupas as well as Greg Gugliotta (The Fosters) will executive produce alongside writer Michael Vickerman (Impact), Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige (The Fosters) and Elice Island's Jeremy Elice and Angela Mancuso (Spartacus, Helen of Troy). Irene Litinsky (Being Human) serves as producer.
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Kingsley, an Oscar winner for his starring role in Gandhi and three-time nominee, will portray Ay, the grand vizier to King Tutankhamun, who wields tremendous power and influence as the top advisor to the young Egyptian ruler.
"Tut is the biggest and most ambitious project in Spike's history. Who better to lead the cast than one of the greatest actors of our generation — Ben Kingsley," Spike exec vp original series Sharon Levy said. "The character he plays, Ay, is the true power behind the Tutankhamun throne. We are so fortunate to have an actor of Ben Kingsley's stature bring this character to life for Spike."
Tut will be filmed entirely on location in Morocco and Canada in the fall for a 2015 debut. The series marks Spike's first scripted event series in eight years and its latest step in its move to reach a more gender-balanced audience.
Kingsley's credits include his Oscar-nominated roles in House of Sand and Fog, Sexy Beast and Bugsy. He won two Golden Globes for his role in Gandhi. More recently, his résumé includes Hugo, Enders Game and Iron Man 3. His upcoming films are The Walk, Autobahn, Night at the Museum 3, Exodus and Selfless. He's repped by CAA.
Cable networks have turned to limited event series in a bid to enter — or in Spike's case, re-enter — the scripted space. The short-run order also helps draw top talent as cablers look to generate awards season buzz and DVR-proof programming in a bid to cut through the clutter.