''Cleopatra'' gets the royal treatment | EW.com

TV

''Cleopatra'' gets the royal treatment

ABC hopes that the $30 million television movie about the Egyptian queen will conquer sweeps

When it comes to girl power, who pops into mind? The Spice Girls? Hillary Clinton? Susan B. Anthony? ABC is hoping that you’re willing to go back a little further than that — say, about 2,000 years — to meet the original Wonder Woman. On May 23-24, the network will unveil Cleopatra, a four-hour mini-series chronicling the love-torn, power-tripping saga of the storied Egyptian queen. But don’t expect just a small-screen rehash of 1963’s epic flop starring Elizabeth Taylor. ”Cleopatra was never done right,” notes executive producer Robert Halmi, Sr., who based his story on Margaret George’s novel, The Memoirs of Cleopatra. ”Our portrayal goes a bit deeper than her sexuality.” It also dug a bit deeper into network pockets than your average sweeps movie: The lavish London- and Morocco-based production — complete with a quarter-mile-long re-creation of ancient Alexandria — cost $30 million, making it both an expensive and an expansive undertaking. ”When I took my first step onto that set, I was blown away,” says Billy Zane (Marc Antony), who shot several of the photos displayed here. ”And when you fill it with 1,500 extras, it was insane. I mean, we were dealing with those numbers on Titanic.”