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Helen of Troy

USA Network mini-series
August 9, 2003 2 PM EST - parts 1 & 2

Region 1 DVD release date, August 12, 2003

Agammemnon: [to Menelaus] You are a smudge on history's ledger, but you are my brother.
(IMDb memorable quote)

Helen of Troy Photo Gallery New

Helen of Troy reviews

HofT.jpg (17088 bytes)
July 28, 2003, 9 AM parts 1 & 2


Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. Greece's most ruthless king, he used Helen's escape to fulfill his own ambition: destroying Troy and crowning himself king of the Aegean. Married to Helen's sister, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, in order to sail safely to Troy.
Menelaus, King of Sparta, successor to Tyndareus. He was Agamemnon's younger brother. Married to Helen and disgraced by her affair with Paris, he sought to avenge his honor with the conquest of Troy. Throughout the war, however, he proved quieter, less imposing, and less arrogant than Agamemnon.
Leda, Queen of Sparta, mother of Helen. Leda was raped by Zeus, making the god Helen's father. Later, she went mad and killed herself.
Tyndareus, King of Sparta. He was ashamed by his daughter Helen's beauty. After his death, Menelaus became king.
Clytemnestra, Helen's sister and wife of Agamemnon. At the end of the war, she killed her husband when she learned he sacrificed their daughter, Iphigenia, in order to sail to Troy safely.
Castor and Pollux, Helen's brothers. It is believed that Pollux was also the son of Zeus. Both brothers were killed in their efforts to save Helen from Theseus.
Helen, Daughter of Tyndareus. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world. Married to Menelaus against her will, she was destined for Paris by the gods. Her escape from Greece to Troy plunged both empires into war.


Hecuba, Queen of Troy. Mother of Paris and Hector, she tried to save her family from being torn apart by a 10-year war with Greece.
Priam, King of Troy. Ignoring his daughter's prophecies, he allowed Paris to bring Helen into Troy. His refusal to hand over Helen to the Greeks set the stage for war.
Cassandra, Princess of Troy. Blessed by the gods with the power to see the future, Cassandra tried to convince her father to give up Helen in order to save Troy.
Paris, Prince of Troy. He and Helen fell in love with each other the moment they met. He brought her back to Troy, even though it meant risking his kingdom and his life.
Hector, Prince of Troy. He was Paris' brother and leader of the Trojan army. When the Greeks invaded his land, he was forced to fight a war he had no part in starting, and he resented his brother for bringing the war upon their family and city.

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Theseus, King of Athens. A legendary warrior, he kidnapped Helen but also befriended her when she was a child. He revealed to Helen the truth about her past; though raised by a king, her real father was Zeus.


FRIDAY, APRIL 11 7:30PM/6:30C
SATURDAY, APRIL 19 10:30AM/9:30C

From a land before time to prime time: what's life really like on the set of a major motion picture? Don't miss your chance to go behind the scenes of the USA original miniseries Helen of Troy in the USA original special Helen of Troy: Making the Epic.

Learn just what it took to bring the greatest story of ancient Greece to life, including armies of extras, film crews from a dozen countries, multiple special effects studios, some of the toughest fighting ever experienced, and more. We'll get you a front row seat for every battle, an up-close look at every major take, and even let you stand right behind the camera and see the things you never get to see on screen!

You'll get an insider's look at Helen of Troy's special effect and stunt secrets, and watch exclusive cast interviews direct from the set, including with Sienna Guillory ("Helen"), Rufus Sewell ("Agamemnon"), and Matthew Marsden ("Paris"). You'll also learn some of the finer points of moviemaking from critically-acclaimed Director John Kent Harrison and Producer Ted Kurdyla, as well as hear some great stories from the crew.

How do you steer a chariot? How do you create a raging hurricane in an over-sized swimming pool? What about sword fights - real or fake? Learn these cinema secrets, plus many more, on Helen of Troy: Making the Epic!

"Helen of Troy" Official USA Network Website
view the trailer (requires Windows Media Player or Real Player)


The set at Fort Ricasoli soon to be used for Helen of Troy
The set at Fort Ricasoli being used for Helen of Troy

February 28, 2003
USA Network is proud to present Helen of Troy, a four-hour, action-packed epic miniseries
about one of the world's most beautiful women - and one of ancient history's grandest wars.
Helen was literally the face that launched 1,000 ships, a woman so captivating that for 10
years, a war raged over her. Helen was forced to marry and then kept secluded for fear her
beauty would destroy her kingdom. But her presence was too powerful to hide forever, and
when Helen and a young warrior named Paris of Troy saw each other, they immediately fell
in love and risked everything to be together. Their relationship sparked a decade-long siege
against the city of Troy, and only history's most famous deception, the Trojan Horse, finally
brought an end to the devastating conflict.

NOTE: USA Network will be airing a special, 30-minute documentary on Helen of Troy created
especially for Cable in the Classroom. This presentation, which will air COMMERCIAL FREE for
easy taping, is scheduled for early morning on Wednesday, April 2, from 4:30 - 5:00 AM ET.


An archipelago at the centre of the Mediterranean with a wealth of heritage.  Home once to ancient civilisations and Europe’s nobles.  Malta’s location at the heart of the Mediterranean is the
key to its rich history

At the crossroads of maritime routes, the Islands have been a home, stronghold, trading post and refuge over 7000 years of history.  From temple builders, seafaring Phoenicians and the traveller Apostle Paul, to the Knights of St John, Napoleon and British royalty - all have set foot here leaving their imprint for you to discover.

The Islands have several World Heritage sites: the enigmatic, prehistoric temples; Malta’s baroque capital Valletta, founded by the Knights; and the walled, medieval capital, Mdina, where

descendants of Norman families still live today.  The palaces and cathedrals of Valletta and Mdina house some of Europe’s finest treasures. 

Wander around the sister island Gozo and explore gems of a rural
life largely untouched by time.  And hike across a rugged, terraced landscape fashioned by man over a millennium ago. 

The Islands present a kaleidoscope of past and present: a fascinating
legacy of European culture and rural Mediterrranean traditions.



TV mini-series Helen of Troy to be shot in Malta

Author: Fiona Galea Debono

2 May 2002

The Malta Film Commission is experiencing yet another busy period, with a number of foreign productions showing an interest and making serious enquires about filming in Malta.

Among the many projects heading Malta's way is a two-part, four-hour, TV mini-series, Helen of Troy, which starts shooting in various locations at the beginning of summer over a period of about two months.

About 95 per cent of the $14 million-budget production is being shot in Malta, which is doubling as Athens, Sparta and Troy, the MFC said.

Helen of Troy is produced and distributed by USA Cable Entertainment - part of Vivendi Group, the largest media group worldwide - and is to be aired in the US early next year.

It is being directed by the renowned TV director, Hungarian-born, Peter Medak, and scripted by Ronni Kern, while a number of top-class actors have been mentioned for the series, although their names cannot yet be confirmed.

The producers approached the Malta Film Commission representative in Los Angeles and meetings were held earlier last month. Following a recce in Malta, they decided to shoot the bulk of the production locally.

Malta was selected for the TV film primarily due to the sets in Fort Ricasoli and the fort itself, as well as other locations, the short distances and competitive costs, the MFC said.

Helen of Troy marks the third TV project to be almost completely shot in Malta in 2002. Shooting of the TV series Julius Caesar and the filmed version of the opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, was completed earlier last month.

Julius Caesar pumped around $14 million into the economy over seven months.

Commenting on the latest project, the parliamentary secretary in the Economic Services Ministry, George Hyzler, remarked that USA Cable Entertainment's decision to shoot the series in Malta confirmed yet again that the island was turning into a reliable and popular film destination.

"The various, unspoiled locations, Fort Ricasoli and the sets in particular, as well as the hard work and professionalism of the MFC have contributed to attract the project to Malta, which was competing with Croatia's Dalmatian Coast.

Dr Hyzler commented that if Malta lost its reliable reputation on one project, irrespective of its budget, it could lose business for the coming years. The government and the MFC would continue to do their utmost to satisfy the needs of every production, he said, confident that the public had understood that the film business was not a "rip-off industry".

The MFC has received encouraging feedback both from the producers of Julius Caesar and Klinghoffer, who said they were looking forward to shooting in Malta in the future.

The past three months have been busy for Malta, following a quieter 2001, Dr Hyzler said, speaking about the need for more human resources in the business and encouraging the private sector to consider the potential of the industry and start investing in it.

He said Malta needed a sound stage and other ancillary services and that while the Business Promotion Act catered for incentives for the industry, feedback from the local private sector was still low.

A training programme for the industry would soon be launched to help Malta increase its workforce in the field, Dr Hyzler said.

According to Variety, an influential daily trade newspaper, the mini-series on the legendary life of Helen of Troy - the face that launched a thousand ships - traces the story of how a savage war was waged over the beauty of one woman, Helen, who risked everything to be with her lover, the young warrior Paris of Troy.

The production team was looking at either trying to lure a big name, known for both her beauty and her acting prowess, or at launching a worldwide search for the perfect Helen.

The mini-series has been described as "a big story, which also involves an interesting personal story that carries you through".

Source: Times of Malta, www.timesofmalta.com
thanks Marina



Malta filming report on Trojan War big-budget film
The Times of Malta September 28, 2002

Meanwhile, the filming in Malta of the USA Cable TV mini-series, Helen of Troy, again on the Trojan War and the beautiful Helen, finished on Monday after a "successful" three-month shoot at Fort Ricasoli and other locations, the commission said.  Helen of Troy is be aired in the US over two nights in March.

click here for the complete article



Rufus Sewell wants comic role
The Times of Malta  August 28, 2002

Fiona Galea Debono

Agamemnon plays computer games on his laptop, whiling away the time before he is called to
step back into a technology-free era and slip into the role of the power-hungry king. Before long,
he is perched on a rooftop on the Helen of Troy set at Fort Ricasoli, brandishing a sword and
bellowing his lines in true stately style.

It is twilight, but the glint in the trademark green eyes of actor Rufus Sewell pierces the
semi-darkness like a dagger and the expression on his face is deep and dramatic as the role

Effortlessly swaying through the ages, it looks like he is enjoying himself. The sword fighting
may be hard work, but Rufus (A Knight's Tale) does not even try to convince anyone that he
is a martyr, knowing full well that nobody would buy it.

After all, there is no actual work in acting "except the hanging around". Quoting Michael Caine,
he says: "The acting is free. It's the waiting around that you get paid for" - useful words that
stop him complaining when he has to resort to computer games in his trailer.

"Anyway, no one wants to listen to actors moan because, when they do, it is usually to people
who have woken up three hours before them and go to bed three hours later, have much less
money and have no one asking them what they would like to drink."

So, Rufus tries not to... until he is, again, left twiddling his thumbs between takes.

"It's the only part that feels like work," he confides. Otherwise, he is playing at war, with the
props, costumes, weaponry and extras to render anyone's boyhood fantasy a reality, not to
mention the talent to enthral audiences.

Rufus appears to have a down-to-earth and humorous approach to his 'job'. Obliterating any
prima donna traits and traces of self-importance, he nevertheless strives to achieve his goals,
which he constantly shifts further and further away, always seeking a challenge.

Comfortable poking fun at himself, he strips off any romantic notions surrounding actors and
acting, although that is not to say he does not take his job seriously.

Starring in the USA Cable TV mini-series, Helen of Troy, which is being shot in Malta, the
34-year-old readily admits to having only read the pocket 'Iliad', with its "big and easy print".

Nor does he wax lyrical about Malta. Diplomatically, after a lengthy pause, Rufus says it is...
"better by night" (not because you cannot see anything, but because "the towns are dry and
dusty, which in some ways is quite beautiful and in others very urban").

In between filming, Rufus leaves his mythological character behind and steps down into the
real world to talk about his five-month-old son William, who is in Malta at the moment.

When he is not acting, Rufus still tries to be creative and is into photography and music -
"anything but country and western and 1980s rock".

"I stopped being in bands when I became an actor because I didn't want to be an actor/musician.
It's sad! A bit desperate too," he states, almost under his breath.

"Established actors, who then release singles, embarrass me slightly. I'm embarrassed for them
and want them to stop it, whether they are talented, or not." The crux of the matter is that people
always want what they don't have!

Rufus is currently attempting to write a script: "I've started many and am beginning to get excited
about the idea. Dialogue seems to come easily to me".

But, as regards "actual strands of storyline that hold it together", that is another story!

Nevertheless, he is optimistic that they would somehow gel and, in the meantime, keeps tapping

Would he star in it himself if it were to materialise? "Well if you cannot write yourself a great part..."

Having said that, "sometimes, by the time you've finished a project like that, you're too old for it

About the appeal of Helen of Troy, Rufus believes that "audiences like historical drama. The fact
that it is set in the distant past renders it, in a way, more accessible because they can relax into
watching the story and do not always want to be confronted with their own world.

"What renders a story universal and eternal is the fact that it is about lust... about the quest for
power... about men and women and what they want to do to each other.

"It is about a woman who drives men to do some crazy stuff, which is just as topical now as it was
in the past. If you go to St Julian's at 2 a.m., there are plenty of mini Helens everywhere."

The reason the story of Helen of Troy is still being told is because it is about "basic humanity -
greed, lust and what drives us - which is the same as when we were living in caves. It is about
wanting to possess and not wanting to share".

Rufus is known to move effortlessly between stage and screen, comedy and drama. He has the
dual ability to either portray the deranged villain, or the romantic leading man. But, he feels that
he is most in his element in comedy and has his heart set on a comic role.

However, having been seen as "the baddie" of late, he feels it may not be easy for him to be cast
as the funny guy.

"As soon as you establish yourself in one role, it can be hard work to pull away from it. The past
few parts I have played were bad guys, so I can't do another. Apart from being boring, it would start
to feel like a business. The fun part is doing something I have never done before."

Rufus knows that "the trick is not to fall too much in love with money and comfort. A few years ago,
it was romantic, Victorian dramas that I had to turn down. The first time I accepted the role of the
bad guy, it was because I was breaking an old mould. Now, I have to do it again."

So, if audiences next see Rufus in a bad-guy role, they can be sure he has earned himself a packet.

"If I were driven by money, I'd get lazy and play the same role again and again. If I am ever
stereotyped, it would be my fault alone."

His film work has been equally varied and acclaimed: from the junkie in Twenty-One to the sweet
bus driver in A Man of No Importance, the volatile artist in Carrington and the lustful son in Cold
Comfort Farm, the star-crossed suitor in Dangerous Beauty and the bitter, acidic, alcoholic in
Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence.

Rufus works for the moment and refuses to get "too involved in the way a film could turn out.
Otherwise, you could get damaged. It's easy for your hopes to get caught up in what awards
you could achieve. It is best to forget about that and concentrate on getting your satisfaction f
rom the work".

The actor, who was nominated for an Olivier Award and received the Broadway Theater World

Award, "might" be soon seen in the "fantastic" Chekhov play, The Three Sisters, although he
has no idea whether, as has been reported, he could be taking Ewan McGregor's place.

"They don't even know which role I'm playing, so I don't know how they can say that."

About other upcoming projects, he prefers to remain vague and stops at merely mentioning
"a film" he might be doing in January.

"I can't tell you about it unless I do it. What if it doesn't happen and someone else ends up
doing it? That does happen, you know.

"For every one job I do, there are 25 I am rejected for... However, I decided a long time ago
that I'd rather get my hopes up every time and have to face the disappointment, rather than
never be excited about wanting something. I'd rather be up and down all the time."

Underlying the light-hearted approach to his job, Rufus does harbour a streak of ambition. He
aims "to do something great one day. At the moment, I don't think I've reached my potential.
Most parts I've played, despite being good, have been a compromise in comparison to parts I
want to play. I haven't yet started getting into the roles I really want - roles that demand more
dimensions. I want to be stretched a lot more."

Pleased that he is not playing the part of the "wholesome hero" in Helen of Troy, Rufus's
Agamemnon is, nevertheless, "not your clear-cut villainous king".

The actor has given his character his own slant: "As an ambitious person, Agamemnon wants
to be a good king, and to be a good king he needs to acquire wealth and power. And that is
what he does. A good king is unstoppable in his quest for power for the benefit of his subjects,
while a weak king is not," he reasons.

Although "you cannot play a part unless you understand it", Rufus does not over-analyse his
characters. Nor does he meditate on and warm up to his role in between takes.

Instead, he takes the opportunity to take a nap... Either that, or more computer games.

thanks Nadine!!



Mediasetonline (Italian, English translation follows)

Visita esclusiva di Mediasetonline sul set del kolossal Elena di Troia, in onda sulle reti
Mediaset nel 2004

Mediasetonline ha visitato in anteprima il set americano di Helen of Troy (Elena di Troia),
film diretto da John Kent Harrison, prodotto dalla Fuel Entertainment, distribuito dall’americana
Cable Entertainment e acquistato da Mediatrade per l’Italia.

Salvo imprevisti dell’ultima ora, la messa in onda in Italia è prevista in due puntate nel

2004 su una rete Mediaset ancora da definire
. Le riprese, che dovrebbero terminare il 24
settembre, sono iniziate a fine luglio sul set cinematografico allestito a Malta.

I protagonisti di Elena di Troia sono Rufus Sewell nel ruolo di Agamennone (Amistad, A
knight’s tale
, Sense and sensibility); Stellan Sdkarsgard è Teseo (Breaking the waves,
Good Will hunting, The glass house
). Il giovane Paride è interpretato da Matthew Marsden
(Dale Sizemore in Black hawk down). Il marito di Elena, Menelao, è l’attore James Callis,
noto al pubblico italiano come uno dei protagonisti de Il diario di Bridget Jones.

Per Sienna Guillory (The time machine), Elena nel film, questo è il debutto in una
produzione televisiva americana. Infine Daniel Lapaine (Say you’ll be mine e la miniserie
tv Flipper) è il coraggioso Ettore. Daniel ai nostri microfoni ha dichiarato il suo amore per
l’Italia: infatti tutta la sua famiglia vive in Toscana.

Oltre ai protagonisti principali hanno collaborato alla realizzazione del film anche 6.000
, utili per le numerose e avvincenti scene di combattimento. Una curiosità: il
cast artistico è internazionale mentre il cast tecnico è costituito per l’80% da italiani,
dal trucco ai costumi, dai macchinisti alla sartoria.

Per costruire la città di Troia ci sono voluti ben 2 mesi e mezzo. Inoltre alcune
scenografie e alcuni costumi, costruiti in gomma e lattice, sono stati fabbricati a mano,
presi in affitto e, infine, ereditati da un’altra mega produzione internazionale: Giulio Cesare.

”La cosa straordinaria di questo film” ha detto ai nostri microfoni Judy Ritcher, supervisore
della produzione, “è che sono stati rispettati al massimo i tempi previsti della lavorazione
senza alcun intoppo e alcun ritardo”.

Ma la protagonista assoluta di Helen of Troy è Malta. Sull’isola è stato allestito un mega set cinematografico. Molti altri film sono stati girati a Malta: Il Gladiatore, Il Conte di Monte
e Giulio Cesare.

“In realtà la scelta di Malta non è stata casuale”, ha dichiarato Michele Greco, production

manager che si è occupato anche di undici episodi della Bibbia e del nuovo Apocalisse in
onda a breve sul piccolo schermo, “per due motivi principali: anzitutto la politica culturale
maltese che ci ha supportati sin dall’inizio, dalla scelta delle location, e poi perché i costi
della lavorazione si abbattono almeno del 20% rispetto l’Italia”.

La produzione ha pensato davvero a tutto, in particolar modo, alla preparazione atletica
sia dei protagonisti maschili (sono molte le scene di combattimento) che degli stunt man
come Pascal e Janik (nella foto a destra). “Noi sostituiamo nelle sequenze più pericolose
Paride e Ettore”, ha dichiarato Pascal a Mol, “è stato un lavoro duro e faticoso perché
abbiamo impiegato ben due mesi per prepararci al meglio”.

Durante la nostra visita sul set, abbiamo potuto ammirare le affascinanti scenografie, curate
da Ino Bonello (Art Director) che ci ha anticipato: "Abbiamo ricostruito il modellino del mitico
cavallo di Troia in 18 metri circa di altezza, ma il suo ingresso nel film sarà trionfale!".

Gli arredamenti, ricostruiti fedelmente all'epoca dell'Iliade, sono stati curati dall’italiana Anna

. “Tutto sommato il mio lavoro non è stato molto faticoso perché ho avuto modo di
preparare tutto già molte settimane prima l’inizio delle riprese”, ha detto Anna a Mol.

Mediasetonline vi proporrà prossimamente interviste esclusive ai protagonisti e notizie inedite

e divertenti riguardanti la lavorazione di Elena di Troia.


English translation of the above article:

Backstage photos of Helen of Troy

Exclusive visit of Mediasetonline on the set of kolossal the Elena of Troy, in wave on the Mediaset nets in 2004


Mediasetonline has visited in preview the set American of Helen of Troy ( Elena of Troy ) , film directed from John Kent Harrison , produced from the Fuel Entertainment, distributed dall?americana Cable Entertainment and acquired from Mediatrade for l?Italia.

Barring accidents dell?ultima hour, the putting in wave in Italy is previewed in two heading in the 2004 at one Mediaset net still to define . The resumptions, that the 24 would have to finish september, are begun to July aim on the prepared cinematographic set to Malta.

The protagonists of Elena of Troy are Rufus Sewell in the role of Agamennone ( Amistad , To knight?s such , Sense and sensibility ); Stellan Sdkarsgard is Teseo ( Breaking the waves, Good Will hunting, The glass house ). The Paride young person is interpreted from Matthew Marsden (Gives them Sizemore in Black hawk down ). The husband of Elena, Menelao, is l?attore James Callis , famous to the public Italian as one of the protagonists de the per diem one of Bridget Jones .

For Sienna Guillory ( The Time machine ), Elena in the film, this is the debut in one television production American. Finally Daniel Lapaine ( Say you?ll be mines and the miniseries tv Pinball machine ) is the brave Ettore. Daniel to our microphones has declared its love for l?Italia: in fact all its family alive in Tuscany.

Beyond to the main protagonists 6,000 appearances have collaborated to the realization of the film also , profits for the numerous and fascinating scenes of combat. One curiosity: the cast artistic it is international while the cast technical it is constituted for l?80% from Italians , from the trick to the customs, the machinists to the sartoria.

In order to construct the city of Troy 2 months and means are intentional very . Moreover some scenografie and some customs, constructed in rubber and latex, have been manufactured by hand, taken in rent and, finally, it inherits to you from un?altra mega international production: Giulio Cesar .

?La extraordinary what of this film? it has said to our microphones Judy Ritcher , supervisor of the production?è that they have been respects you to the maximum the previewed times of the working without some difficulty and some delay.

But the absolute protagonist of Helen of Troy is Malta. Sull?isola has been prepared mega a cinematographic set. Many other films have been turn to you to Malta: The Gladiatore, the Conte di Monte Christ and Giulio Cesar .

?In truth the choice of Malta has not been accidental, Greek Michele has declared , production manager that it has been taken care also of eleven episodes of the Bible and the new Apocalypse in wave to short on the small screen?per two main reasons: first of all the maltese cultural politics that it has to us support to you sin dall?inizio, from the choice of the location, and then because the costs of the working at least pull down of 20% respect l?Italia.

The production has thought indeed next to all, in particolar way, to the athletic preparation it is of the male protagonists (are many the scenes of combat) that of the stunt man like Pascal and Janik ( in the photo to right ). we replace in the more dangerous sequences Paride and Ettore, Pascal to Mol has declared ?è be a hard and laborious job because we have employed two months very in order to prepare to us $R-al.meglio.

During our visit on the set, we have been able to admire the fascinating scenografie, cured from Ino Bonello (Art Director) that it has anticipated to us: "We have reconstructed the model of the mythical horse of Troy in 18 meters approximately of height, but its income in the film will be prevails them!".

The furnishings, reconstructed faithfully to the age of the Iliad , have been cure dall?italiana Anna to you Young garlic . added my job it has not been much laborious one because I have had way to before prepare all already many weeks l?inizio of the resumptions, Anna to Mol has said.

Mediasetonline will next propose you exclusive interviews to the amusing protagonists and regarding unknown news and the working of Elena of Troy

thanks Nadine!

Maltese actors impress in mini-series
The Times of Malta August 15, 2002

Fiona Galea Debono

As many as 80 of the 100 speaking parts in the USA Cable TV mini-series Helen of Troy, currently being shot in Malta, are being played by Maltese.

Locals are also playing major roles and have been described as "sensational" actors by producer Ted Kurdyla.

"Besides being good-looking, the Maltese offer a good cross-section for casting," he said, speaking of the advantages of filming in Malta.

"Usually, in other countries, few speaking parts can be cast."

The local actors are working with the likes of Rufus Sewell (A Knight's Tale), starring as Agamemnon; Matthew Marsden (Black Hawk Down) as Paris; Stellan Skarsgard (Good Will Hunting) as Theseus; and Sienna Guillory (The
Time Machine) as Helen - the face that launched a thousand ships.

The production involves 6,500 extras (in terms of man days). They have had to contend with sweltering heat, which nobody seems to be too fazed by, as well as howling "demon" winds when filming a supposedly "windless" scene on the cliffs of Mellieha, where Agamemnon and his men are
about to sail for their siege of Troy.

The two-part, four-hour mini-series stars a predominantly British cast, says executive producer Adam Shapiro, who describes the actors as "superb, professional and talented..."

Filming of Helen of Troy, which rides the wave of the surging interest in history, started on July 22 and continues until the end of September.

The production is being shot in its entirety in Malta, which is doubling as Sparta, Athens, Troy and Mycenae, using a number of locations, including the Mizieb woods, Rdum id-Delli between Mellieha and Manikata, Fort Campbell in Selmun, Villa Bologna in Attard and Comino.

Vittoriosa Gardens, with its olive trees and limestone walls, is the ideal Sparta; "magnificent" Ghajn Tuffieha is the site of the Greek invasion, with Troy being digitally imposed on the escarpment; and San Anton is Athens.

"Malta is able to offer different locations, which could go 2,000 years back in time, and could be reached in the space of 30 minutes.

"It is also one of the two places in the world where the water sequences can be shot in the safety of a man-made enclosure (the Rinella water tanks), with the horizon as the background, so that it doesn't look like a tank," Kurdyla points out.

Although it depicts ancient Greece, he maintains that Helen of Troy is to be a "travelogue" for Malta.

"The vistas are magnificent, particularly Comino's Blue Lagoon - the scene where the two shipwrecked lovers experience the only happy moment in their lives. Audiences are going to ask: 'where is that? I want to go there'."

Of course, finding an area that looks 2,000 years old because it is undeveloped has a price - inaccessibility. However, even that problem was surmounted.

The forts and the limestone walls are perfect, according to Kurdyla, and the lack of vast fields of greenery is compensated for by the public gardens.

"Malta is unique in that it can double as so many places in the world. Different towns have a different look and feel, which can be adapted to suit different ages. Depending on the time of the year, Malta could be anywhere in the Mediterranean."

Malta is on Kurdyla's agenda for other productions. However, he would like to see similar incentives to the ones that are offered in other countries such as Canada, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic.

"Malta has 10 times more to offer than Luxembourg, yet it is the latter that offers tax incentives.

"In many countries, I could walk away with an 18 per cent return on my investment, which is not insignificant if you calculate spending around $10 million on an average production...

"That money is spent in the space of five months. Who else drops that kind of money and leaves? And that does not even include hotel accommodation, the buying of gifts and going to restaurants."

The production company is using the services of 250 Maltese companies, Kurdyla adds.

The fact that Malta is an island could be considered a drawback in that everything has to be flown in from Rome and, if equipment needs to be repaired, things could get complicated.

Having said that, about 75 per cent of the required equipment was found.

"We managed to utilise companies that had what we needed without even knowing it."

Another slight hitch is that when filming in July and August - the height of the tourist season - weekend evenings are alight with fireworks, which are not ideal for shooting scenes like funerals.

For Kurdyla, however, there is always a plus side - in this case, invitations by staff members to their village festas.

"We cannot afford to offend anyone," he says, only too keen on enjoying the festivities.

"When we have time off, Malta is a wonderful place to relax. The people are warm and welcoming."

The Malta Film Commission, and its attempt to create one-stop shopping, is probably the main reason Helen of Troy is being filmed in Malta.

"They were responsible for answering our questions truthfully, letting us know where the strengths are and where the manpower lies."

Fort Ricasoli, where shooting is currently under way, was also the "dangling carrot". It is here that Troy has been recreated, complete with the looming gateway through which the notorious Trojan horse, still in meticulous design stage, enters.

Maltese construction workers on the set include 100 carpenters, with as many as 80 plasterers at the peak. They have been working round the clock, building replicas of Sparta and Troy in the space of six weeks - a procedure that would normally require six months.

"Maltese are the most talented workmen... the best talent we have ever come across," said production designer Jim Allen, who is currently inundated with sketches of 'a Trojan horse with a difference'.

The idea is to drift away from the traditional, rough-hewn, static, wooden horse, which is being fashioned from the remnants of the Trojan camp, including shields and armour. Only parts of the "snarling, ominous, stylised beast" are being constructed and the rest is the work of computer-generated imagery.

"We did not just take the Roman sets (from Julius Caesar) and call them Greek," stresses Shapiro, explaining that the Roman arches have been squared off.

"The general perception is that the only Homer Americans know is Homer Simpson and that they cannot tell the difference between ancient Greek and Roman architecture," but Shapiro is out to prove the contrary and defend his compatriots, rectifying the "uncultured, ignorant" image they may have.

Shapiro is the former USA Network senior vice-president of long-form programming, and producer of Andre, as well as a number of other children's films.

New sets were designed and the façades of the Julius Caesar structures, depicting ancient Rome, were altered, meaning that once Helen of Troy is complete, Malta is to have at its disposal both Roman and Greek backdrops - a plus for production companies, intending to shoot a period film on the i

"It is such a great feeling to come on set and see that what you could only visualise a mere 18 months ago has materialised," says Shapiro.

The mini-series, originally penned by Ronni Kern, was altered by director John Kent Harrison. Characters have been motivated and motivations simplified, relationships between them have been intensified and others brought to the foreground, the executive producer points out.

Although attention is being paid to historical detail, Helen of Troy, which is premiering in the US in April, is not only targetting a discerning, intellectual audience. The production is not masterpiece theatre, but a "rousing, spirited love story, set against the tapestry of the ancient world," says Shapiro.

The script has strayed from the original and focuses on the love story, rather than the meddling and conspiring of the gods with each other and the mere mortals.

Helen of Troy traces the story of how a savage war was raged over the beauty of one woman, who risked everything to be with her lover, the young warrior Paris of Troy. She was the most beautiful woman in the world and her husband and his allies quickly realised that her beauty could cause a devastating war.
Spurred on by the villainous Agamemnon, they vowed that no one would ever sleep with Helen, not even her husband.

Unfortunately, Paris, a young Trojan warrior, knew nothing of the vow. The minute he and Helen saw each other, they fell in love and risked everything to be together, sparking ancient history's greatest war.

After countless people lose their lives, history's most infamous trick - the Trojan horse - brings the incredible story to an end.

Thanks Nadine!

August 3, 2002

Rufus is in beautiful Malta for 10 weeks, filming "Helen of Troy." 
Amy and Billy are with him.


Variety.com - July 9, 2002

Sci Fi cabler takes 'Leap'
Net announces duel Universal projects

New incarnations of "Quantum Leap" and "Tremors" are among several original series and films based on Universal titles morphing their way to Sci Fi Channel, which is now part of Universal Television Group.

Cable net announced the projects during the Universal Television session at the Television Critics Assn. Tour in Pasadena, which kicked off Tuesday. The cable portion of the tour continues through the end of this week.

A two-hour "Quantum Leap" movie, which will serve as a back-door pilot for a reinvention of the former series, is being developed, with Don P. Bellisario exec producing. "Tremors," based on the cult movie series, will debut as a one-hour action series in January. It comes to the small screen from the original creators of the movies -- exec producers Nancy Roberts, Brent Maddock and S.S. Wilson -- and exec producer David Israel.

Projects join two previously reported endeavors at Sci Fi based on Universal properties, upcoming series "Firestarter: Rekindled" and "Battlestar Galactica," under way as a four-hour miniseries/backdoor pilot.

Sci Fi also announced it has ordered 65 episodes of "The Dream Team With Annabelle and Michael," a nightly half-hour alternative reality series produced by Stone Stanley Entertainment. Production is slated to start this fall for a January start. Former co-host of TBS' "Dinner & a Movie" Annabelle Gurwitch and psychotherapist Michael Lennox host the strip, which Sci Fi said "pulls up the subconscious shades" on auds by peeking at subliminal desires.

Universal TV chairman Michael Jackson introduced the sesh by acknowledging his company's recent woes. "No television (show) could match the drama and bloodshed that Vivendi Universal has experienced in the past few weeks," he said.

Also at the U sesh, USA Networks announced casting for its "Helen of Troy" mini and pic "Dominick Dunne Presents: Murder in Greenwich."

Sienna Guillory ("The Time Machine") has been deemed a face that could launch a thousand ships, landing the role of Helen. She'll be joined by Rufus Sewell as Agamemnon, Stellan Skarsgard as Theseus and Matthew Marsden as Paris.

Christopher Meloni ("Law & Order: SVU") will play LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman in the pic based on Fuhrman's book "Murder in Greenwich."

Net also trumpeted its record ratings for frosh series "Dead Zone," reminded that skein "Monk" bows Friday as part of its branded night, "Crime Fridays," and announced a development slate (Daily Variety, July 8).

  • ESPN is looking to the mid-1950s tale of 35 boys who survived Bear Bryant's harrowing Texas A&M pre-season college football training camp for its second original movie.

    "The Junction Boys: How 10 Days in Hell With Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team," an ESPN Original Entertainment production based on the book by Jim Dent, is set to preem at 9 p.m. Dec. 14. Orly Adelson is exec producing, and Michael Robe is writing and directing.

    ESPN also announced that four of the passengers who died Sept. 11 on United Airlines Flight 93 will receive the 10th annual Arthur Ashe Courage Award, to be handed out during tonight's ESPY Awards. Dennis Franz will present the awards to the families of Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, who have been credited with saving untold lives by forcing the plane down in a Pennsylvania field.

  • Struggling cable network Oxygen presented the first sesh of the day Tuesday, with topper Geraldine Laybourne attributing some of the net's difficulty drawing viewership to the fact that viewers don't know they have the network on their cable systems yet.

    "Last year we probably had half the subscribers we will have by the end of this year," she said. "The name of the game in the next few years will be figuring out how to get their attention."

    Laybourne said she is looking forward to establishing a comedy block with original, scripted laffers. The info-heavy bent to content in the first year was due to the fact "that's what could be done" in the six months of prep before Oxygen launched in 1998.

  • E! Networks, which sponsored the Tuesday luncheon, dedicated its sesh to a panel with the cast of debuting "The Anna Nicole Show," starring Anna Nicole Smith. The comedic reality show's first season of 13 half-hour episodes preems Aug. 4. E! has options on several seasons of the show.


Tuesday July 9, 3:00 pm Eastern Time
Press Release

USA Network Announces Casting for 'Helen of Troy' A Special Event 4-Hour Original Mini-Series
Rufus Sewell, Stellan Skarsgard, Matthew Marsden and Sienna Guillory to Star
PASADENA, Calif., July 9 /PRNewswire/ -- USA Network made casting
announcements today for "Helen of Troy," the 4-hour original mini-series
based on the legendary life of Helen of Troy. The mini-series stars Rufus
("A Knight's Tale," "Sense and Sensibility," "Amistad") as Agamemnon; Stellan Skarsgard ("Breaking the Waves," "Good Will Hunting," "The Glass House") as Theseus, and Matthew Marsden ("Black Hawk Down") as Paris. Making her U.S. television debut, Sienna Guillory ("The Time Machine") will star as Helen -- the face that launched a thousand ships. Jeff Wachtel, executive vice president, series and longform programming, USA Network, made the announcement.

"Helen of Troy" is an epic story of love and war. Helen of Troy was the most beautiful woman in all of the world. Her husband and his allies quickly realized that Helen's beauty could quickly cause a devastating war. Spurred on by the villainous Agamemnon, they vowed that no one would ever sleep with Helen, not even her husband. Unfortunately Paris, a young Trojan warrior, knew nothing of the vow. The minute he and Helen saw each other, they fell in love. They risked everything to be together, sparking ancient history's greatest war. After countless had died, history's most infamous trick -- the Trojan Horse -- brought this incredible story to an end.
"Helen of Troy" is currently in pre-production and is slated to premiere in
second quarter, 2003. The mini-series is being directed by John Kent Harrison "A Wrinkle in Time," "What the Deaf Man Heard"), produced by Fuel Entertainment and distributed by USA Cable Entertainment. Penned by Ronni Kern ("The Princess and the Marine"), the executive producer is Adam Shapiro, former USA Network senior vice president of long-form programming, and producer of "Andre" and "Tom's Midnight Garden."

USA Network has a history of premiering successful original mini-series. The critically acclaimed mini-series "Attila" premiered in January 2001 and became basic cable's highest-rated original miniseries since USA's Emmy®- nominated "Moby Dick" premiered in March 1998, delivering the largest audience of any entertainment programming in the history of basic cable at the time of its premiere.

USA Network is cable television's leading provider of original series and
feature movies, sports events, off-net television shows and blockbuster
theatrical films. USA Network is available in 82% of all U.S. homes, and is seen in 86 million U.S. homes. The USA Network Web site is located at http://www.usanetwork.com.

USA Network is a program service of Universal Television
(http://www.universalstudios.com), a division of Vivendi UNIVERSAL
Entertainment (VUE), the U.S.-based film, television and recreation entity of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications group.

thanks to Grace of Vue2Sewell

Editorial comment - Rufus was in neither "Sense and Sensibility" nor "Amistad"


























































































































































































































































































































































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