I read Ken Follet's novel The Pillars of the Earth in 1990, so it's been about 20 years. With far fewer entertainment choices available in those days I was a vastly more voracious consumer of books than I am these days. I remember loving that book and staying up late reading and going into the office bleary-eyed in the morning for a few days.
I will watch the miniseries on Starz (I haven't watched the screeners yet), and given a cast headlined by Ian McShane I expect it will get some decent reviews. I'd probably watch it even without McShane because I'm now a big fan of Alison Pill after her performance in season two of HBO's In Treatment.
Keeping in mind that Starz is only available in around 22 million out of the nearly 115 million homes in the U.S. with televisions, I'm not expecting "Pillars" to be a ratings smash, and I can't imagine Starz is either. I'll be very surprised if the 8 hour adaptation of Follet's work does as well as Spartacus: Blood and Sand which topped-out with a 0.6 rating with adults 18-49 and nearly 1.3 million viewers for the initial telecast of its most-watched episode.
On the other hand, don't be too surprised if "Pillars" does better than the highly critically praised but disappointingly-rated (and now canceled) Party Down. "Disappointingly-rated" may be an understatement: the initial airing of its second season finale mustered a 0.0 adults 18-49 rating and a mere 74,000 viewers overall.
The 8-part miniseries The Pillars of the Earth premieres Friday July 23 at 10pm on Starz. Netflix customers should be able to watch via instant streaming as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the east coast and it becomes Saturday, July 24.