Salem in HBO ring with Crusades mini

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HBO is back in business with writer Kario Salem, who won an Emmy for penning the channel's 1997 biopic "Don King: Only in America."

Salem is developing a miniseries about the Third Crusade, the 12th century clash between Islam and Christianity, told through the eyes of their respective leaders, Saladin and Richard the Lionheart.

"This is not some dry historical costume drama," Salem said. "This is a personal story. I think it of it as a medieval gangster epic."

The project would be a co-production between HBO and U.K.'s Channel 4, with executive producers attached who are longform veterans at HBO: Tony To ("From the Earth to the Moon") and George Faber ("Elizabeth").

"Tony has been there with me from the beginning on this," Salem said of To, whose credits also include "Band of Brothers." Salem also has worked with HBO before, receiving an Emmy nomination for another biopic, "The Rat Pack."

Salem is particularly enthused about offering a fresh angle on the storied life of Richard the Lionheart, best known from the classic "The Lion in Winter."

HBO is no stranger to the sword-and-sandal genre, having finished work on two seasons of the series "Rome," which returns to the channel next month.

Faber represents Company Pictures, which cleaned up at this year's Emmys for HBO with "Elizabeth" as well as "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers."

Salem earned a script order for eight hours on the strength of an outline of more than 100 pages steeped in years of research. He originally envisioned a 10-hour version but agreed to trim it by two hours.

Salem, who will direct at least one episode, is writing the first four hours, and Don McPherson is writing the final four.

Salem is repped by CAA.
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