EXCLUSIVE: After featuring Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra as portrayed by Lindsay Lohan in its original movie Liz & Dick, Lifetime is now going for the real thing, putting in development a four-hour miniseries about the famous Egyptian queen. Written by Robert Port (Numbers) and produced by Michael Goldstein and Mike Larkin (Scoundrels), the mini tells the story of one of the most popular figures in ancient history. The last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra is known mostly for her beauty; her liaisons with Rome’s Julius Caesar and Mark Antony; and her tragic suicide that was followed by the fall of Egypt, which became a Roman province. This is a rare multi-part miniseries for Lifetime, whose longform business has been focused primarily on TV movies. The cable network recently came on board History’s four-hour Bonnie & Clyde miniseries, which is being shared by the two sibling nets. It stars Holliday Grainger, Emile Hirsch, Holly Hunter and William Hurt and is directed by Bruce Beresford.
This development season, NBC gave a put pilot commitment to Cleopatra, a period drama produced by Di Bonaventura Pictures TV and ABC Studios. While the project, written by Michael Seitzman, did not get a pilot order, it is still percolating on a slower track. There have been numerous screen adaptations of the story of Cleopatra, most notably the 1963 movie starring Taylor. The most recent TV miniseries was ABC’s 1999 Cleopatra starring Leonor Varela in the title role.