The minds behind Starz’s pirate drama Black Sails are dialing their Wayback Machine even further into the past for their next project. They’re working on a new historical drama based on the infamous Egyptian queen Cleopatra for Amazon Studios.
According to Deadline, Black Sails co-creators Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine will continue their collaboration with Sails executive producer on this new series. Levine is writing the script, and all three will again serve as executive producers. Described as “The Godfather in Ancient Egypt,” Amazon’s Cleopatra will find the iconic queen in dire straights. After an attempt on her life, Cleo will have to “use her natural wit and political genius to take back her throne and restore honor to her family and kingdom.”
After a four-season run for their pirate drama, these guys clearly know a thing or two about making a period drama, and presumably they can roll over all the lessons they learned on that show into this one. Although we’ve seen it a bunch on the big screen, ancient Egypt hasn’t been explored on television. As for Cleopatra herself, easily her best-known screen incarnation was as played by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 film. Fox had a TV project called Hieroglyph in the works a few years back, about “a notorious thief [who] is plucked out of the prison to serve a Pharaoh obsessed with maintaining power.” However, the project was canned before it made it to air. (Coincidentally enough, Hieroglyph was created by Pacific Rim‘s Travis Beacham, whose dark noir steampunk fantasy series Carnival Row just got ordered to series by Amazon.)
Either way, ancient Egypt is ripe for exploration in a narrative TV series. If done right, a Cleopatra series could easily stand toe to toe with shows like HBO’s Rome or Deadwood, or Showtime’s The Tudors. Hell, even if it skews more toward the guilty pleasure of Starz’s Spartacus: Blood and Sand, that still sounds like the makings of a good time.