FremantleMedia International Takes Sales on Paolo Sorrentino's 'The Young Pope'

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Jude Law will star as the newly anointed Pontiff in the fictional drama series from the Oscar-winning director of 'The Great Beauty.'

FremantleMedia International, continuing its push into original drama, has picked up worldwide sales rights for The Young Pope, the upcoming limited series from Oscar-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty).

The series, a co-production of Sky, HBO and France's Canal Plus, will star Jude Law as the fictional Pope Pius XIII, who is elected to be a puppet of the Vatican but has his own ideas about transforming the Catholic Church. 

Sky, HBO and Canal Plus will have exclusive rights to The Young Pope in their respective territories, with FMI handling worldwide sales in all other countries. The series is set to begin shooting this summer through early 2016. FMI will present the first footage to buyers at the MIPCOM market in Cannes in October. The series is currently completing casting.

Sorrentino, who just premiered his latest feature film, Youth, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, will direct all eight episodes of The Young Pope.  Sorrentino co-wrote the series together with Tony Grisoni, Umberto Contarello and Stefano Rulli. FMI said the series has been set up in such a matter as to allow further seasons, though no decision on that front has yet been made. 

Italian shingle Wildside is producing The Young Pope together with France's Haut et Court TV. Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani of Wildside are executive producers, together with John Lyons. Executive producers for Haut et Court TV are Caroline Benjo, Carole Scotta and Simon Arnal

Jens Richter, CEO of FremantleMedia International, told The Hollywood Reporter the project represented the sort of high-end drama Fremantle wanted to be associated with. The company has traditionally relied mainly on reality and entertainment formats but is aggressively pushing into the drama space, most recently with German spy series Deutschland 83, which premieres on Sundance TV next week.