NBC Orders 'Epic' Cleopatra Pilot from Lorenzo Di Bonaventura — Who Should Star?

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All hail the queen… of Egypt.

NBC has given a put pilot order to an “epic” take on Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, our sister site Deadline reports.

Written by Michael Seitzman and coproduced by ABC Studios and filmmaker Lorenzo Di Bonaventura’s eponymous shingle, the series would be set in “a world of sorcery, gods and monsters” and revolve around Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Julius Caesar, “an infamous love triangle that changes the course of history, forever ending the 4,000-year dominion of the Pharaoh.”

Cleo’s suicide [er, spoiler alert!] would be saved for the series finale, I reckon, unless the project is one giant in media res thing.

RELATED | NBC Gives Put Pilot Order to Secret Service Action-Thriller

Seitzman this past pilot season penned the fashion-themed sudser Americana, which fell just shy of getting picked up by ABC, while Di Bonaventura — who like Seitzman has a deal at ABC Studios — successfully sold the Anthony Edwards-fronted conspiracy thriller Zero Hour, to bow at midseason for ABC.

The “put pilot” status for their Cleopatra tale means NBC would pay a penalty if it never sees the light of day, so… it’s almost a sure thing.

RELATED | NBC Orders Buddy Comedy Plot from Saturday Night Live‘s Seth Meyers

A new big-screen take on Cleopatra has been talked about for some time, to star Angelina Jolie and be directed by David Fincher. Who is your pick to play the regal icon for NBC? (Put your hand down, Lindsay Lohan….)



Comments (131)

  • Halle Berry or Frieda Pinto for the win!

    Comment by Mark – August 11, 2012 06:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Neither of those are the right race. Cleopatra is of Mediterranean descent so she should be played by a greek or caucasian actress.

      Comment by dude – August 11, 2012 08:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Have you been to Egypt and/or looked at Egyptian people? To me they are very ethnically diverse, so Cleopatra can be a beautiful woman from a wide range of races

        Comment by Keren – August 11, 2012 01:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • True, but Cleopatra was, in reality, Greek.

          Comment by Emma – August 13, 2012 08:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • SHE WAS AFRICAN PEOPLE…LOOK AT THE MAP EGYPT IS IN AFRICA dont believe the hollywood hype love Liz Taylor but demographically they were africans of various hues…the beauty of the black people

            Comment by Iyabo – August 30, 2012 05:09 AM PDT  
      • Cleopatra was allegedly part african and part mediterranean. A mixed race actress looks the part.

        HALLE BERRY FOR THE WIN . I am sure they’ll cast the usual boring nordic type .

        My second choice is Liya Kebede.

        Comment by lechatnoir – August 11, 2012 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • She was not part African, by any historical evidence (beyond being born in Africa, of course, but she wasn’t black). The idea that she was is a persistent but inaccurate myth. Cleopatra’s Ptolemaic dynasty was primarily of Macedonian Greek (European) descent, with some intermarriage believed with Persian/Parthian nobility. So a mix of Greek and Iranian.

          Comment by Sean C. – August 11, 2012 02:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Scholars insist she had to be part african ( as in black ) and part mediterranean. Maybe you should stop posing as a scholar because your theory is just your own. Even if she was part indian it would not justify the blonde cleoptra shoves down our throats.

            This means someone like Halle looks the part . It is not difficult to find a much younger mixed race actress . Jurnee smullet comes to mind , hell even Denise Vasi could kill it.

            Comment by lechatnoir – August 12, 2012 05:10 AM PDT  
          • No, scholars don’t insist that. It’s a fringe theory propagated by some people based on a mistaken interpretation of the supposed bones of Cleopatra’s half-sister Arsinoe IV.

            The idea that Cleopatra was part-black is based on the idea that Arsinoe IV was, and quite apart from the fact that the idea that she was is highly problematic, Arsinoe was Cleopatra’s half-sister, ie, they had different mothers. Cleopatra’s mother is most commonly held to be Cleopatra V, her father’s sister/cousin.

            Comment by Sean C. – August 12, 2012 08:18 AM PDT  
      • wrong answer

        Comment by Ontell Babbitt – August 11, 2012 11:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • no Cleo is from AFRICA…Egypt is in AFRICA

        Comment by Iyabo – August 30, 2012 05:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • She wasn’t born there…

          Comment by nick1372 – August 30, 2012 10:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Too old. Cleo died at 19.

      Comment by Templar – August 11, 2012 09:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • LOL! And if so, that will be out the window in a hot second. we’ll be seeing a 25-35 year old Cleopatra to be sure.

        Comment by Temperence – August 11, 2012 12:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • She died at age 39 not 19, she didn’t even meet Caesar until she was 21

        Comment by Mary – August 11, 2012 01:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I was kidding, Mary.

          Comment by Templar – August 12, 2012 09:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Oh, sorry.

            Comment by mary – August 12, 2012 10:05 AM PDT  
  • With something this expensive, they have to pick a pretty big star, right? If I heard HBO was doing this, I’d be über-excited. But NBC? They have no money!

    Comment by Sam – August 11, 2012 06:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Actually NBC has more money than HBO, since one of them is a broadcast network and the other one cable.

      Comment by Gerald – August 11, 2012 06:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • What I think Sam meant is that they put less money in per show than HBO does. The quality of an HBO show v. an NBC show is significantly better. Game of Thrones couldn’t have happened on NBC. Period.

        That being said, I think Rosario Dawson could rock that role out of the park.

        Comment by Maricela G (@maricelag21) – August 11, 2012 06:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Agreed. The networks can’t or won’t spend the money it takes to put on an expensive and authentic period series like HBO or Showtime do. Can you imagine Game of Thrones, The Tudors, Boardwalk Empire, Rome or The Borgias on one of the networks…Yikes !

          Comment by TheBeach – August 11, 2012 04:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Archie Panjabi…..she’d be fantastic. :)

    Comment by Kim R – August 11, 2012 06:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She is not leaving The Good Wife for an NBC, especially with their track record for dropping the ball.

      Comment by Paul – August 11, 2012 07:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I LOVE this idea. She would be amazing.

      Comment by RachelA – August 12, 2012 11:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I wonder if they are gonna use any ounce of mythology surrounding cleopatra? I think this is gonna be a MASSIVE flop. What they should really do is adapt the Rick Riordan series about Egypt in modern day society. The Kane Chronicles are amazing and a live action tv series would be SUPERB….

    Comment by shuayb – August 11, 2012 06:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “…the series would be set in “a world of sorcery, gods and monsters…”

      Comment by Joan – August 11, 2012 12:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • At the very least, The Kane Chronicles is screaming for a film franchise. And since Riordan’s other series Percy Jackson has been ruined by its movie, I would pray that Kane Chronicles would be done right. It was a very well-done trilogy.

      Comment by Mikael – August 13, 2012 07:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If the actress that played Rebecca on Greek wasn’t already set to star on Revenge, I would say she is perfect.

    Comment by Melosm – August 11, 2012 07:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’s recurring she could still do it. idk if she is big enough a star to do it but she could.

      Comment by Paul – August 11, 2012 07:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Natalie Morales!

    Comment by Dominik – August 11, 2012 07:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’d be a good choice I think. She hasn’t had her own show but she has white collar and the Newsroom under her belt.

      Comment by Paul – August 11, 2012 07:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Actually, she was the lead on a short-lived ABC Family series called The Middleman.

        Comment by Katie – August 11, 2012 12:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Christa Miller

    Comment by Brett – August 11, 2012 07:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Reblogged this on Lauren's Playground and commented:
    NBC Pilot News: period dramas aren’t always about lords, ladies and ma’ams. Sometimes they’re about pharaohs.

    Comment by Lauren – August 11, 2012 07:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How about Morena Baccarin?

    Comment by SL – August 11, 2012 07:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She’s the best option I’ve heard so far.

      Comment by Paul – August 11, 2012 07:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Paula Patton .

        Comment by lechatnoir – August 11, 2012 01:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Was just logging in to suggest her. First actress who came to mind.

      Comment by daviduter – August 11, 2012 07:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes! She would be awesome as Cleopatra. But I don’t think she’s leaving Homeland anytime soon because the show is doing well.

      Comment by Holly – August 11, 2012 11:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love that idea as she definitely has the right look of the Hellenistic queen. But I think she is a bit committed to Homeland, plus I think she’s just a tad outside the historically correct age range. I have my doubts NBC is going to care much about casting someone the correct age though.

      Comment by Britta Unfiltered – August 11, 2012 11:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • NBC is not the CW – there won’t be any teen queen Cleos running around. I think a 25-35 year old lead is far more likely.

        Comment by Temperence – August 11, 2012 12:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes!! That would be amazing. And correct me If I’m wrong, but she could still be on this show without leaving Homeland. They shoot on different parts of the year, right?

      Comment by Joan – August 11, 2012 12:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Eva Green or Morena Baccarin

    Comment by Scribe – August 11, 2012 07:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think both of these suggestions are fantastic.

      Comment by dude – August 11, 2012 08:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree. I can see both actresses as Cleopatra.

      Comment by Holly – August 11, 2012 11:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was also just thinking of Morena. She certainly looks the part and we know from Firefly she can really pull off that sort of “arrogant”, hautain vibe.

      Comment by Mitholas – August 12, 2012 01:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Kristin Kreuk (in case Beauty and the Beast fails)
    She already wore the costume in an episode of Smallville and looked stunning!

    Comment by Luc – August 11, 2012 08:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Valentina Cervi.

    Comment by DL – August 11, 2012 08:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s cute that you guys think any suit would sanction a POC to take the lead. So excited for Minka Kelly as Cleopatra!

    Comment by Mína – August 11, 2012 08:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Morena Baccarin, Valentina Cervi, Catarina Murino, Leonor Varela

    Comment by Fox – August 11, 2012 09:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What about Jessica Szohr? She kind of has an original look that would work for Cleopatra.

    Comment by AT – August 11, 2012 09:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And she’s biracial. :-)

      Comment by Mark – August 11, 2012 08:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Marion Cotillard

    Comment by Craig – August 11, 2012 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Considering that Cleopatra was Macedonian Greek and not Egyptian she should be played by a Greek actress. And considering that she was NOT physically attractive (but very charismatic, intelligent and well-educated), the chosen actress’ physical attributes should reflect the reality of the historical character.

    Comment by JE Ster – August 11, 2012 09:22 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Therefore it should be Lady Gaga!!!!

      Comment by Alienate – August 11, 2012 10:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • hahahaha you crack me up

        Comment by Luna Maya – August 12, 2012 04:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I would take lady gaga over the rest of bland eurocentric surgically enhanced “beauties”. Gaga’s more fun . Half of the actrsses people picked look too “done” in real life.

        Comment by lechatnoir – August 12, 2012 05:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You do realize that you are supposed to be casting a network TV show, right? Of course, the actor they choose will be a beautiful young lady.

      Comment by Temperence – August 11, 2012 12:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • You’re probably right and it’s a sad commentary that the entertainment industry can’t present a historically accurate portrait.

        Comment by JE Ster – August 11, 2012 08:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I have a feeling that all the actors will all be very good looking people and all in their 20s or 30s. Nevermind that Cleopatra was never said to be a great beauty, a model will be chosen for the part. Caesar was 52 when he met Cleopatra but in this show it will be some hot young actor who looks good in a toga.

          Comment by mary – August 12, 2012 10:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Morena Baccarin would be an epic choice. But would Homeland allow her to do it?
    Paula Patton or Thandie Newton maybe.

    Comment by Leo – August 11, 2012 09:38 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mila Kunis or Vanessa Marano would be close in age and coloring.

    Comment by Templar – August 11, 2012 09:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I could totally see Vanessa Marano as Cleopatra.

      Comment by Drewer – August 11, 2012 11:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I will forever see her as that girl that ruined Gilmore Girls.

      Comment by melosm – August 12, 2012 02:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • 95% of these suggestions are too old

    Comment by TheDude – August 11, 2012 09:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Not necessarily. Watch HBO Rome Season 2. Lyndsey Marshal was excellent as Cleopatra.

      Comment by Holly – August 11, 2012 11:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Someone who looks the part.

    Comment by Kiki – August 11, 2012 10:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Olivia Wilde !!!

    Comment by Soso – August 11, 2012 10:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It’s an NBC show, so probably someone that has another sure job, cause this is probably going to last as long as the playboy club xD

    Comment by Polly – August 11, 2012 10:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m not really sure any young actresses in Hollywood today have the right age, gravitas, and right look to pull off this part. If anyone comes close, it might be Alison Brie. She’s proved she can do period pieces and can hold an audience captive, and she can pull off being 19. I have a strong feeling NBC is going to cast this part way too old, and it’s going to make me mad, because I’m a stickler for accuracy in period pieces. I’m also terrified some Twihard is going to get on here and suggest Kristen Stewart. And then I would have to punch them and say “No, twihard. Just no,” to that awkward, gangly mess.

    Comment by Britta Unfiltered – August 11, 2012 11:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love Alison Brie on Community but age-wise I don’t know if she’s a good fit. She currently plays a 21 year-old but looks closer to 30. Cleopatra was 17 when she began her reign and 21 by the time she met Caeser who was in his 50s. So I hope age is factored into the casting decisions.

      Comment by Mary – August 11, 2012 01:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • What kind of heinous white washing are you suggesting? No thanks.

      Comment by Remy – August 12, 2012 01:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Mia Maestro, Vanessa Ferlito or Michelle Forbes. They might not be big names like Halle Berry and what not, but I still think they would be nice fits, except Forbes might be too old (although she isn’t very old at all….but you know…Hollywood old).

    Comment by Mik – August 11, 2012 12:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Even though there’s no way on god’s green earth a network would cast someone as old as Michelle Forbes, she’d be excellent.
      Maybe if a pay cable network was doing it.

      Comment by Sam – August 11, 2012 12:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Wow, Mia Meastro was the first woman i thought. She would be awesome as Cleo.

      Comment by Rolo – August 11, 2012 12:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is the sort of project that I think would be poorly-suited to network TV.

    Comment by Sean C. – August 11, 2012 12:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Precisely. That’s why I’m surprised they hired Greenblatt to run NBC.

      Comment by Christian – August 11, 2012 12:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lucy Lawless my first choicebutif they want a younger actress I wouldkike to see Viva Bianca of Spartacus. Would love to see Katrina Law too but she doesn’t look like an Egyptian.

    Comment by King – August 11, 2012 12:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Katrina Law has asiatic features, but i think it is an excellent choice. She’s amazing.

      Comment by Kara – August 11, 2012 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • it depends on whether they start her at the beginning of her reign or go staright to her relationship with Caeser and Antony. She was only like 16 when she took throne and died in her late 30′s. if it is a younger actress my vote would be for them to cast a newbie. But if she is older than Morena Baccrin is my choce

    Comment by Amanda – August 11, 2012 12:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She was 17 when she took the throne

      Comment by Mary – August 11, 2012 01:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Bridget Regan, Tabrett Bethell, Jessica Marais. I miss Legend of the Seeker.

    Comment by Constable Geneva – August 11, 2012 01:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • i agree Geneva

      Comment by joe – August 11, 2012 01:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think Bridget Regan has a show coming out on NBC, or do they pull the plug on the western? I’m going to suggest Paola Turbay

      Comment by Dan – August 11, 2012 02:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have to agree with Rebecca from Greek. I think she would be the best casting.

    Comment by Elizabeth – August 11, 2012 02:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i wouldn’t expect too much historical fact added in here
    i magine it’s gonna be more action & probably sci-fi
    soem stuff might be used when it fits but i think mainly the names of people & places might be the only accurate stuff used

    Comment by Lee – August 11, 2012 02:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Traci Dinwiddie. Look her up, seriously.

      Comment by shanni1124 – August 11, 2012 03:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Salma Hayek

    Comment by Renee – August 11, 2012 03:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Morena Baccarin would be great, but I do not want her to budge from Homeland.

    I would not watch this show unless someone I really liked was in it. And even then, maybe not. I just don’t like period dramas.

    Comment by nick1372 – August 11, 2012 04:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This could be totally awesome. They should cast an unknown woman as Cleo….and she needs to not be white.

    Comment by mia – August 11, 2012 05:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If for some weird reason she left Homeland, Morena Baraccarin would be perfect. I also think Rosario Dawson is a good suggestion, whoever said that. Is Naya Rivera a too tweeny suggestion? We don’t know how much exactly she’ll be involved in Glee this year, and I personally think she’s one of the strongest actors on the show. It depends on what age they’re looking for. Erica Cera could also be good now that Eureka’s done.
    So, yah, my top 4:
    Morene Baccarin
    Rosario Dawson
    Naya Rivera
    Erica Cera

    Comment by Gilda – August 11, 2012 06:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Oops, I don’t mean Baracarrin, just baccarin, got kinda carried away

      Comment by Gilda – August 11, 2012 06:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Bianca Lawson. I think she would be perfect in the role!

    Comment by Elizabeth – August 11, 2012 07:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Erica Cerra!!!

    Comment by Keren – August 11, 2012 07:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Azita Ghanizada should totally get the role, she’s perfect!

    Comment by Deanna – August 11, 2012 07:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How about Ashley Greene from Twilight and Pan Am? I think she could tackle the part.

    Comment by Mark – August 11, 2012 07:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Frieda Pinto or aishwara ray !!!

    Comment by janet – August 11, 2012 07:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • yeah frieda pinto she’s beautiful, young and fits for the origins

    Comment by shay – August 11, 2012 08:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Cleopatra was Greek, from a long line of Greek rulers in Egypt. The possibility of Cleopatrra being part African is speculation. Thus, the actress cast to play her should not be Latina or of African descent. Someone who looks like Melina Kanakaredes (CSI: NY) would be more accurate casting. (Maybe Jamie Murray, Sofia Milos…)

    Comment by Trinity – August 11, 2012 08:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m sure whoever they pick, it will be someone super white, as usual.

    Comment by lil – August 11, 2012 08:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Reblogged this on The Perks of Being Bespectacled and commented:
    Another high-concept TV Show that will never see the light of day especially if it’s on NBC.

    Comment by wingriver18 – August 11, 2012 09:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Azita Ghanizada is a good call. I’d watch every episode of that mess.

    Comment by Jason – August 11, 2012 09:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Naya Rivera

    Comment by Cole – August 11, 2012 10:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t think NBC is the right network for a show like this, and have a feeling they’ll butcher the series. However, my first thought when I read this was Lucy Lawless. I just remember they had an episode of Xena where she had to masquerade as Cleopatra.

    Comment by Daniel – August 11, 2012 10:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • She might be going to prison in a few weeks, so whilst a great actress, she might not be available/the lead NBC would want. And I agree, NBC doesn’t seem the right choice for this show Cable would have a better end product.

      Comment by Dan – August 12, 2012 07:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Come on…dig into that big pot of cash you made from the Olympics and hire the ONLY actress who can bring all the fire and ice necessary…Angeline Jollien (sp?) …
    You know…Mrs Brad Pitt…and snag him an Antony!

    Comment by Hugh Harrison – August 11, 2012 11:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Morena Baccarin …hands down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Ontell Babbitt – August 11, 2012 11:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Brazilian, (very well) employed (in Homeland) and very white. Are you people all on crack or something? That’s one of the worst choices possible.

      Comment by Dark – August 12, 2012 07:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Necar Zadegan

    Comment by Ryu – August 12, 2012 12:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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