So imagine my excitement when I learned that Starz appears to be attempting a similar feat with kung fu movies for its new series "Marco Polo." Now ignominiously fated to be remembered for a stupid backyard pool game, Polo was a certified badass, and deserves better. At the age of 17 he headed east from Venice, Italy, with his father and uncle on a journey that spanned 24 years and 15,000 miles. A lot of what he actually did and saw is open to dispute, due to the complete absence of travel blogs in the 13th century, but this is a good thing from the perspective of the show's producers, since they're free to take plenty of dramatic license. Anyhow, the Starz series will focus on Polo's time at the court of Kublai Khan, the Mongolian ruler who conquered all of China, which I hear is pretty hard to do. It looks like it will be heavy on kung fu action and, hopefully, awesomeness. Filming is set to get under way in China in August. Marc Hirschfeld and Blyth Nailling will be handling U.S. casting.
Another high-profile TV series gearing up for a summer shoot is NBC's straight-to-series pickup "Hannibal." Now, if we were talking about the great Carthaginian general who fought in the Second Punic War, I might've had a better segue. Two period dramas involving great military commanders of antiquity? That's easy. But we're talking about Hannibal Lecter, the psychologist turned serial killer from the Thomas Harris–penned novels turned films. The show will focus on Lecter's pre-incarceration days, when he was helping FBI agent Will Graham solve murder cases while also killing and eating people, fava beans, etc. Hugh Dancy is attached to play Graham. Cami Patton and Christal Karge are casting ahead of a July shoot in Toronto.
Fun fact: Did you know gasoline deteriorates rather quickly? It's true. Due to oxidation, evaporation, contamination, and so on, refined gasoline has a shelf life of a few weeks to a few months. Somebody should tell the producers of "The Walking Dead," is all I'm saying.