"The Saint" Marching Back Into TV

March 21, 2008

A team of talented filmmakers is bringing The Saint back to television. Originally a popular British series in the 1960s, The Saint centers around a debonair international thief named Simon Templar. Roger Moore played Templar in the ‘60s and will be a part of the new project.

The 2-hour television movie could be the basis for a new series. In 1991, Bill Macdonald, the feature producer on the project, gained the rights to the Leslie Charteris books on which The Saint is based, for Robert Evans, who in 1997 produced a feature film version starring Val Kilmer as Simon Templar.

In 2004, Macdonald teamed up with Roger Moore and writer Jorge Zamacona. Moore’s son Geoffrey also got involved with the project and the four of them formed the “Templar Entertainment Group” in order to bring The Saint back to TV. They were able to secure the television rights to Charteris’ novels and Zamacona prepared a pilot script. The show was set up to be on the 2007 development slate at TNT, but the network ended up passing on the project and the rights reverted back to the producers.

Zamacona then approached Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, with whom he worked on the series Homicide: Life on The Streets. The two agreed to come on as executive producers (along with Zamacona, Geoffrey Moore, and Macdonald) and Levinson will tackle the task of directing.

Macdonald mentioned, "One of the things we lost a little bit of in the movie but want to bring to the TV series is that Simon Templar is a very funny character with great lines and situation humor, and I don't think there is anybody better than Levinson to tackle that.”

Right now, it looks as though British actor James Purefoy of HBO’s Rome will star as Simon Templar. Casting is underway for the other main roles and filming is set to begin next month in Budapest, Hungary, New York, and Puerto Rico.

A similar approach of bringing back a once-popular television series starting with a TV movie was recently successful with Knight Rider, so there are high hopes for The Saint.

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