The Oscar-winning director of The Great Beauty signs deal with Sky Italia and Wildside.

Sky Italia and Italian production compnay Wildside have secured a deal with Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino, who will write and direct his first TV series - The Young Pope (working title).

The 8 x 50-minute series will be written by Sorrentino in collaboration withStefano Rulli and Umberto Contarello.

The series will be entirely directed by Sorrentino and promises an international cast.

The Young Pope revolves around the figure of a fictional pontiff: the first Italian-American pope in history. The story is set in modern times and unfolds between the Vatican City, Italy, US and Africa.

Produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani’s Wildside, The Young Pope will be a US co-production and will feature John Lyons as executive producer.

“Sorrentino is the first world-class Italian filmmaker who did not only decide to write and shoot a TV series for the world market, but to entirely write and shoot it himself” said Mieli and Gianani in a joint statement.

“The series is about a Pope’s dreams, fears, conflicts, struggles,and the search for meaning and the need for love, as seen through Sorrentino’s unique style that is able to create worlds that can appear at the same time amazing and more real than reality.”

Andrea Scrosati, Sky vp of cinema, entertainment, news and partner channels, said: “Paolo’s skill, uniqueness of style, and enthusiasm in innovating motion pictures genres, including his technical and qualitative attributes, are a perfect demonstration of our current programming strategy – to create original, bold and ambitious content.”

Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty won the Best Foreign-Language Film prize at the Academy Awards in March.