Riding on the wave of success of other historically-themed specials like “The Tudors,” which wrapped up just a few short weeks ago, as well as “Spartacus,” the latest timely drama to hit TV airwaves is “The Pillars of the Earth,” debuting on CBC tomorrow night.
Based on the novel by Ken Follett that was published in 1989 (and was one of Oprah Winfrey’s book club picks four years ago), the program stars Donald Sutherland (“Dirty Sexy Money” and “Commander in Chief,” amongst others), Rufus Sewell (“Eleventh Hour” and “John Adams), Ian McShane (“Deadwood,” “Kings” and “Death Race”), Matthew Macfadyen (“Any Human Heart” and “Criminal Justice”), Eddie Redmayne (“Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and “Elizabeth I”), Alison Pill ("Milk"), and Hayley Atwell (“Any Human Heart” and “The Prisoner”). The mini-series will run over eight episodes, and the entire project cost approximately $40 million.
“The Pillars of the Earth” already aired on premium cable channels last summer in Canada (on The Movie Network and Movie Central) as well as south of the border on STARZ network. The mini-series was partially funded by Muse Entertainment, which is based in Montreal, and had no U.S. broadcaster involvement, which came as a relief to actor Rufus Sewell. "As far as I’m concerned, the idea of working for one of the major networks worried me," he told The Canadian Press from Italy.
The mini-series was shot in Austria and Hungary, where the cast indulged in their rich cuisines. "It [was] really fantastic, but not a plus when you’re trying to fit into the same suit every day," Sewell said.
“The Pillars of the Earth” debuts on Tuesday at 9pm on CBC.