The following article in the NZ Herald today
interviewed Rob about LotS and Spartacus.
Tapert would know. Credited with creating both Xena and Hercules with producing partner Sam Raimi (director of the Spider-Man movies), he is the ultimate authority on sword-swinging fantasy.
A call to Tapert finds him navigating the traffic to Sylvia Park where his next ancient world series, Spartacus, is about to roll.
Legend of the Seeker represents a double return - to the world of fantasy television and a big New Zealand-based production.
Only Seeker isn't another Herc or Xena and it doesn't star Mrs Tapert, Lucy Lawless. The tone is more earnest and the special effects are many generations on. This is a post-Lord of the Rings/Narnia television series.
"We really tried to differentiate, yet play to some of the strengths that Herc and Xena once did," he says. "[On those shows] we knew the special effects were going to be lacking and a little bit cheesy because we didn't have the money or the technology.
" Now we can get motion picture quality effects for television prices.
"So that actually has helped us in terms of being able to attempt things and take them in the fantasy world without getting a cheesy aura attached to it."
As the series heads to New Zealand's airwaves this Sunday (8.35pm, Prime) it has also been picked up by more than 60 international markets.
Though it's a much different world in which to make and sell a show than it was in the Herc/Xena days.
"You can't even really compare," says Tapert."
There are so many more outlets for people to view things. The show does incredibly well on these online carriers which are very tough to monetarise - iTunes and all that, there is very little money there. So the ratings are still determined by how many people watch it when it's on the air.
"It's really hard to compare those things so it's harder to get shows off the ground especially in this economic environment.
"If we were trying to do this this year it would never have got made."
So far as the local screen industry is concerned it's meant a 40-plus week shoot making 22 one-hour episodes with more to come in the show's confirmed second season.
Tapert says of its 225-strong cast, about five came from Australia and two are Americans, while behind the camera, the show has been produced and frequently directed by local Mark Beesley, who Tapert credits with preventing Seeker taking the tongue-in-cheek approach, among other directors including former Hercules co-star Michael Hurst and Garth Maxwell.
Tapert isn't afraid of the inevitable comparisons to his previous shows - or to the LOTR trilogy.
"It's so different ultimately that I am not worried about the comparison. It's a TV show, it's: will they tune in on a weekly basis and find it entertaining?"
Though he has qualms about how the show might play here.
"I actually think - and this is a bit jaded - it will be judged slightly harder. It's just a phenomenon of how these things work.
"People recognise local actors and so on. But I am hoping I am wrong."
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NZ Herald - 26 March 2009 Spartacus returns
Just as the local production on the first season of Legend of the Seeker winds down, another of producers Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi's latest New Zealand-based productions is about to start shooting. And this one will involve Lucy Lawless - Tapert's missus - in a recurring role.
The show is called Spartacus though it has less to do with the Stanley Kubrick/Kirk Douglas classic take on the story of the Roman rebel slave than with being a hard-edged small screen answer to hit Spartan war flick 300.
Tapert says the show is for US cable network Starz Entertainment and will be shot largely using greenscreen in an Auckland studio, using many local actors - at least ones willing to get their gear off.
"It's a reinvention of that story and myth. So the first 13 episodes are like the rise of the gladiator rock star. It's more in the vein of Deadwood meets 300.
"We are not being slavish to style and history or any of that. This is really a graphic novel brought to life."
So no, we won't see someone with a curious resemblance to Xena shouting: "No, I am Spartacus!" Pity.
Towards the end of January, Creation Entertainment held their annual Official Xena Convention where the stars of the show entertained the fans. At this year's convention, the first mini LOTS con was held within a con.
Rob Tapert along with Nicki Paluga, staff writer, Stephen Tolkin, Co-Executive Producer were on hand to answer questions from the fans after show a bit of Episode 11: Confession.
KT writes superb reports (transcribed from written notes) for the Xena conventions and she wrote one for the panel.Click here to read her reportClick here to view pictures from the convention of the panel