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Starz Developing Dramas From 'Spartacus,' 'Thor' Scribes

Steven S. DeKnight is behind the sci-fi action thriller "Incursion," while "Babylon 5's" J. Michael Straczynski will team with "Ring's" Roy Lee for "Vlad Dracula."

Starz's "Spartacus" Is Hanging Up Its Scandals
Steven S. DeKnight

Starz has put two high-profile projects from the creators of Spartacus and The Ring into its development pipeline.

The cable network said Wednesday that it is reteaming with Spartacus' Steven S. DeKnight for Incursion, a sci-fi action thriller revolving around a group of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race. Each season of the potential series will be fought on a new, exotic planet as humanity inches deeper into enemy territory.

In addition, the premium cabler is developing Vlad Dracula, described as a unique spin on the classic tale and a blending of historical facts of the 15th century Prince of Wallachia with the fictional character Dracula. The potential series would trace the character's evolution from a revered ruler to the world's most feared vampire and his slow downfall as he struggles to hold on to his humanity, wife and kingdom. Rob Tapert (Spartacus) will produce.

The project hails from J. Michael Straczynski, the writer and producer behind Thor, Underworld: Awakening, Babylon 5 and The Changeling as well as horror icon Roy Lee (The Ring, The Strangers).

"Steven DeKnight, J. Michael Straczynski, Roy Lee and Rob Tapert are legendary talents, having created some of the most groundbreaking and iconic television series with incredibly passionate fan bases the world over," Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik said. "We are thrilled to work with such sophisticated auteurs and producers as we grow the slate of unique Starz original series."

For DeKnight, the project marks his first effort following Spartacus, which will end its run after its upcoming season. The entry comes months after the former Buffy the Vampire Slayer scribe signed Starz's first overall deal -- a two-year pact.

The pair of projects, if ordered to series, would join dramas Boss and Magic City as well as new entries Black Sails, from Michael Bay, and a Marco Polo project from Young Guns' John Fusco  at the network, which was ordered straight to series. Harem, a potential series exploring the Ottoman Empire with scribe Ann Peacock, is also in development at Starz.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit