American producer Rob Tapert talks to NZ On Screen about hearing that New Zealand was "an undiscovered production treasure" in a studio carpark and he discusses the internationally popular syndicated TV programmes that he's brought here (Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules) that have helped realise that vision.
These productions were instrumental in building the skill base of the NZ cast and crew. Many NZ actors found fame through their characters, particularly Lucy Lawless (now married to Tapert) and Michael Hurst (Iolas in Hercules).
Tapert talks about his beginnings in the industry: dropping out of grad school in Michighan (where, "Hollywood might as well have been as far away as New Zealand") to make films with long time business partner and Hollywood director, Sam - Evil Deal, Spider-Man - Raimi.
Tapert also discusses:
- Making blood mixture on their first feature, Evil Dead.
- The inherent difference between feature films and television.
- His involvement in Hercules and the challenges of juggling global productions.
- His commitment to local cast and crew and the unlikely inspiration for Hercules' cast (Desperate Remedies).
- His inspirations for Hercules' spin-off Xena and the internet's influence on Xena becoming a pop culture icon.
- Why local actors and directors have succeeded on these productions, but NZ writers haven't managed the crossover and why post-production fx were done in the US.
Rob continues to bring new productions to NZ, and is about to cast a new adult series for US Cable TV. Tappert has recently finished producing another major TV series in Auckland, Legend of the Seeker [www.legendoftheseeker.com]
This video is available for distribution on YouTube as Part One and Part Two.
The following was sent out by Creation Entertainment:
We're happy to announce that ROB TAPERT
, The Executive Producer of Xena and the man who made it all possible, will be appearing on Sunday at the Official Xena Convention 2009
in Los Angeles (January 30-February 1). Rob has five new movies he's producing and on television he has Legend of the Seeker in syndication as well as the new series 13: Fear is Real on CW. We're thrilled that he can take time from his super-busy schedule to be with us for our annual event.Click here to get tickets and more info
Starz Declares - "We Are 'Spartacus!'"
Starz Productions and Raimi/Tapert/Donen to Create an All New Action Series Exclusive to Starz Channels and Additional Platforms
Premium Service Continues Push Into Original Drama and Comedy Series That Pair With Lineup of Top Hollywood Feature Films
BURBANK, Calif. and ENGLEWOOD, Colo., Oct. 27 -- The world of gladiators comes to life as the Roman Empire's most brutal fighters clash in the ultimate arena. Starz's new series, "Spartacus," an entirely new twist on the ancient legend, will utilize virtual environments giving it a unique graphic novel look and style, along with a fresh narrative approach. Debuting exclusively on Starz, "Spartacus" will be produced by Starz Media with Executive Producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen. The announcement was made today by Stephan Shelanski, executive vice president, programming, for Starz Entertainment. It will begin production in early 2009, debuting on Starz and its suite of channels later in the year.
This is the second original drama series on Starz, and the first drama produced in-house by the premium service's studio sibling, headed by William Hamm, executive vice president, originals productions. Hamm brought the project to the channel.
Steven S. DeKnight ("Smallville," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") has been signed as head writer and show-runner of the series, which was developed by Raimi (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3 and Evil Dead), Tapert (The Grudge, "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys") and Donen (The Quick and the Dead) and is being produced in New Zealand by Starz Media's Starz Productions. DeKnight is one of the most sought after Producer/Director/Writers in television and is currently consulting on Joss Whedon's "Dollhouse" and tapped to write for the upcoming season eight in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book series.
From the talented team responsible for some of the biggest action feature film hits, and consistently popular action TV series, "Spartacus" will take the story of the rebellious warrior-slave and re-imagine it for a generation of TV viewers raised on graphic novels and cutting-edge production technology. Audiences will get 13 hour-long episodes of unsparing action, set in the brutal world of gladiators. Because the series is being produced for Starz -- the fastest-growing premium television service -- there is no shortage of intense action and vivid, R-rated storytelling. This will be a TV series with an original narrative and a very unique look and feel.
"When 'Spartacus' debuts in the summer of 2009, it will give our subscribers a show unlike anything currently on TV: a fresh, high-energy action series with nothing held back," Shelanski said. "We think it will be the destination show for next summer. It, along with our other original productions underscores our commitment to being a new kind of TV company, programming the biggest movies and the best new television series."
"By utilizing the latest digital filmmaking techniques to create the look of this series, we'll be able to tell the story in a way never before seen with production values far beyond what even the most ambitious TV series can offer," Tapert said. Raimi added "It is going to be very exciting to take one of the most beloved and inspiring characters of all time, re-invent and bring them to life for a whole new generation of TV viewers."
Starz's new "Spartacus" series was inspired by the actual slave of the Roman Republic who in 73 BC led a slave revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters. Defying the Roman Republic's legions of soldiers, they campaigned for two years through much of what is now Italy before succumbing to a much larger army. The new series will tell a new set of stories rich in character, action, sex and combat.
Starz Media's Anchor Bay Entertainment will hold exclusive worldwide home entertainment distribution rights to "Spartacus," while the company's Worldwide Distribution group will handle international television and domestic syndication sales.
"Spartacus" is just the latest original series for Starz. Its first dramatic series, "Crash," a co-production from Starz Entertainment and Lionsgate, premiered Oct. 17. Starz Media will also produce "Party Down" for Starz, debuting in early 2009, the companies announced recently. These come on the heels of Starz's original half-hour comedy series, "Head Case," which stars Alexandra Wentworth and is currently in production on additional episodes. Starz also features "Starz Inside," a monthly series of original specials examining people, trends and culture in entertainment, hosted by film critic Richard Roeper.
About Starz Media
Starz Media, LLC, is a programming production and distribution company operating worldwide. It includes the Film Roman, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Manga Entertainment brands. Its units create animated and live-action programming -- including theatrical films -- and programming created under contract for other media companies. It distributes that programming, and programming acquired from outside producers, through home video retailers, theaters, broadcasters, ad supported and premium television channels, and Internet and wireless video distributors in the US and internationally. Starz Media (http://www.starzmedia.com/) is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group.
About Starz Entertainment
Starz Entertainment, LLC, is a premium movie service provider operating in the United States. It offers 16 movie channels including the flagship Starz and Encore brands with approximately 17 million and 31.3 million subscribers respectively. Starz Entertainment airs more than 1,000 movies per month across its pay TV channels and offers advanced services including Starz HD, Encore HD, Starz On Demand, Encore On Demand, MoviePlex On Demand, Starz HD On Demand, Encore HD On Demand, MoviePlex HD On Demand, and Starz Play. Starz Entertainment (http://www.starz.com/) is an operating unit of Starz, LLC, which is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation, and is attributed to Liberty Entertainment Group, a tracking stock group of Liberty Media Corporation.