What many people don’t know about Martin Scorsese is that he has been having a strong desire to work on a project that delves into the history of Rome. Even better for fans of Scosese is that he also has a considerable knowledge of the period. We only got a small taste of it in his controversial Last Temptation of Christ effort.
The current rumors are that Scorsese and HBO are working on a deal that will allow him to do an original take on the common but still popular historical figure of Julius Caesar. It seems that to TV and movie viewers the period of Roman history and the medieval times in general are of growing interest. Scorsese wants to capitalize on that interest by doing his own take on Julius Caesar.
Now there are several obstacles that need to be overcome if we are actually going to see Scorsese’s fantasy become a reality. The first is that it is not clear of Scorsese can make the adjustment to television. He has a pair of somewhat notable TV efforts under his belt – Boardwalk Empire and Vinyl. The first had a strong start and the second really never got off the ground. One reality is that TV generally has stricter budget constraints for any type of sweeping epic series (it’s why you see so many news programs and sitcoms).
A second problem is that HBO has gone down Medieval Road without a whole lot of success to show for the journey. That means despite the current popularity of the genre, to must decide not only whether Scorsese can pull off making the transition to television, but whether there will be enough interest in the genre 12 — 18 months from now. The earliest any production can begin will be in 2019, as Scorsese is tied up with several projects at the moment.
If these obstacles can be hurdled, the rumor is that Scorsese will be pursuing a take of the young Julius Caesar, one that predates all the traditional “Hail Caesar!” approaches seating him as emperor. Here is where Scorsese’s knowledge of Roman history will become critical. The TV audience will quickly dismiss any series that does not at least start to challenge the successful Game of Thrones on at least one level. If they are not convinced at the beginning the Julius Caesar remake will wow them, Scorsese’s effort can end up on the floor quicker than his attempt with Vinyl. Add to this the fact that Scorsese is well-known to many people, so the expectations will be high.
One advantage HBO has is that they will be using Scorsese to present a series that will draw interest based on the “I didn’t know that” factor. Most people know enough about Julius Caesar either from school or from the many movies that have been done about the era. There must be engaging characters and plenty of intrigue, but getting viewers to be chomping at the “what’s next” hook that makes many TV series worth watching must also be present. Connecting Caesar’s well-known future to his past is another feature that will get viewers to become comfortable with the series storyline.
Can Scorsese finally make the adjustment to television? Will the interest of medieval themes continue its run into 2019? Will HBO be willing to bankroll a Scorsese project? These are the three most important questions that need to be answered before we will see the beginning of a series about Young Julius Caesar.