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Ed Westwick, John Hannah, Alanah Bloor Join Turkish Star Can Yaman in ‘Sandokan’ TV Series Reboot as Production Starts (EXCLUSIVE)

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Ed Westwick (“Gossip Girl”), John Hannah (“The Mummy”) and British newcomer Alanah Bloor are set to join Turkish lead Can Yaman in “Sandokan,” Lux Vide’s reboot of the cult Italian TV series about the adventures of its titular pirate who, with his motley crew, fights against colonial powers in Southeast Asia.

Shooting is set to start April 22 outside Rome on this high-end reboot of Italian writer Emilio Salgari’s exotic epic. The original “Sandokan,” directed in 1976 by Sergio Sollima, catapulted Indian actor Kabir Bedi to Bollywood stardom, having sold to more than 85 countries around the world.

Fremantle-owned Lux Vide’s new spin on the storied “Sandokan” IP is based on an idea by Lux Vide CEO Luca Bernabei developed for TV by Alessandro Sermoneta (“Devils”); Scott Rosenbaum (“The Shield”); Davide Lantieri (“Monterossi”) and directed by Jan Maria Michelini (“Devils”) and Nicola Abbatangelo (“Doc”). 

In an unusual arrangement, “Sandokan” will air on Italian state broadcaster RAI’s flagship RAI1 station and will be distributed worldwide by Fremantle except for one territory. In Spain, the show’s distributor is the Berlusconi-controlled Mediterráneo Mediaset España Group.

“Sandokan” is set in the mid 19th century on the island of Borneo, where the native Dayak tribes are dominated by ruthless Brits “at the height of their colonial power,” as the provided synopsis puts it.

The new “Sandokan” is also being described as a grand epic with a strong environmental angle.

Initially, Sandokan (Yaman) just goes about his pirate business without taking sides, leading his motley crew that includes trusted sidekick Yanez de Gomera, played by Italian A-lister Alessandro Preziosi (“The Lying Life of Adults”). Everything changes during a raid when Sandokan intersects and elopes with Marianne (Bloor), the daughter of the British consul. Pirate hunter Lord James Brooke, played by Westwick, will be hot on their trail. The “Gossip Girl” star is the lead’s antagonist “who will stop at nothing to capture Sandokan and win Marianne’s heart,” the synopsis says.

Also joining the “Sandokan” cast are Madeleine Price (“Geek Girl”); Gilberto Gliozzi (“I delitti del Barlume”); Mark Grosy (“Zero Zero Zero”) and Samuele Segreto (“Stranizza d’amuri”).

“We are very proud to be bringing the iconic ‘Sandokan’ saga back into Italian homes,” Bernabei said in a statement. “Over the past few years, we have worked to create an international project that would enhance Emilio Salgari’s IP in a contemporary way.”

RAI Head of Drama Maria Pia Ammirati underlined that “Sandokan is a myth-character that marks the history of RAI.”

Jens Richter, CEO Commercial and International at Fremantle, added: “We are excited to be partnering with Lux Vide and Rai Fiction on this exciting and ambitious reimagining of a well-loved saga for new audiences across the globe.”

Filming on the show will kick off in Formello, outside Rome, where the “Sandokan” set will inaugurate the new Theater 7 within Lux Vide’s own production hub. The “Sandokan” shoot will also take place in the Lazio region, in Tuscany, on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean and in Italy’s evocative Southern Calabria region, where the English colony of Labuan has been recreated in Lamezia Terme with support from the Calabria Film Commission.

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