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Ben Kingsley To Star In Spike TV’s ‘Tut’ Event Series

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 9:21am PDT

Ben Kingsley To Star In Spike TV’s ‘Tut’ Event SeriesOscar winner Ben Kingsley has been tapped for a starring role in Spike TV’s Tut. He will play Ay, the Grand Vizier to King Tutankhamun, who wields tremendous power and influence as the top advisor to the young Egyptian ruler The six-hour event series revolves around Tutankhamun, aka King Tut (who reigned c. 1333 to 1323 BC), the youngest Pharaoh to rule Ancient Egypt, whose famous golden sarcophagus has become one of the symbols of the ancient civilization. Shooting begins this fall in Morocco and Canada. It’s slated to debut in 2015.
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An Appreciation Of Louis Zamperini, A True American Hero

Mike Fleming

An Appreciation Of Louis Zamperini, A True American HeroWhat sad pre-holiday news: American Olympian track star and WWII hero Louis Zamperini passed away last night at age 97, just one day short of Independence Day. It’s somehow poignant that Zamperini’s shadow hovers over the July 4th holiday; it comes half a year before the Universal Pictures release of Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed adaptation of the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller about a man whose unwillingness to break despite the most difficult of circumstances in a Japanese POW camp made him the personification of struggle and heroism. Part of that struggle included getting a movie made on his extraordinary life; imagine, Universal’s first attempt at a Zamperini film came in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis sparked to playing Zamperini as his follow-up to Spartacus.

louzzMany know Zamperini’s story because of the superb book by Seabiscuit author Hillenbrand, and the world will celebrate him at year’s end when Universal releases the film in Oscar season, with Jack O’Connell playing Zamperini. I have been obsessed with Zamperini since I saw a segment on his ordeal broadcast by CBS during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and have written about the movie at Variety and Deadline since then at the slightest provocation, because it seemed such a worth screen story. When CBS chronicled his story, Zamperini returned to Japan to run with the Olympic torch, covering ground not far from where he spent an unimaginably brutal stretch in a Japanese prison camp … Read More »

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Starz’s ‘Power’ Renewed For Season 2

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 12:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Curtis 50 Cent Jackson and Omari HardwickAnother early second-season renewal for a Starz drama — the pay cable network has picked up Power following its debut last Friday. The series, created and executive produced by Courtney Kemp Agboh and executive producers Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mark Canton, David Knoller and Randall Emmett, will begin production on its 10-episode second season in September in and around New York and at its home base at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.

Starz logo 2014The eight-episode first season is set in two different worlds, the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade, and follows James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) as he attempts to leave his illegitimate lifestyle behind. “Power is a project extremely close to my heart and working with Chris Albrecht, Carmi Zlotnik and the Starz team has been the perfect fit for this,” Jackson said. “Viewers may be loving the start of Season 1 now, but Season 2 will blow them away.” Power debuted on Friday with 462,000 Live+same day at 9 PM, 1.27 million for the three Saturday night airings and 2.022 million for the nine weekend runs on Saturday and Sunday. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Shine Cracks ‘Code Of A Killer’; CBS, M6 Extend Partnership; Dogwoof Bites ‘The Overnighters’; More

Shine_International_LOGOShine International has taken on international distribution for ITV’s Code Of A Killer and Channel 5’s Rome: The World’s First Superpower. The former, produced by World Productions, tells the true story of Alec Jeffreys’ discovery of DNA fingerprinting in the 1980s and its first use by detective David Baker (played by David Threlfall) in solving a double murder only three miles from Jeffreys’ lab. James Strong (Broadchurch/Gracepoint) is set to direct the two-part drama, which shoots in September. Rome: The World’s First Superpower is co-produced by 360Production and GroupM Entertainment. It looks at the major heroes and villains from Hannibal and Julius Caesar to Spartacus and Cleopatra and tells the story of how one small city among many conquered the world and then ran it for nearly 1,000 years. Read More »

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Premiere Ratings For Starz’s ‘Power’ Down From ‘Black Sails’, On Par With ‘The White Queen’

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 2:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

powerkeyart__140408203607Starz‘s latest original drama series, Power, premiered on Saturday with 462,000 Live+same day at 9 PM, 1.27 million for the three Saturday night airings and 2.022 million for the nine weekend runs on Saturday and Sunday. That was down from Starz’s most recent debut, pirate drama Black Sails, which launched in January with 846,000; 1.7 million and 2.6 million, respectively; and roughly on par with last August’s opening of limited series The White Queen (416,000 for the premiere airing; 2.1 million for premiere weekend). Before The White Queen, Starz’s original series launched on Friday, not Saturday, making direct comparisons trickier. Like The White Queen, the debut weekend of Power, exec produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, included an airing on sister channel Encore, which drew 150,000 extra viewers vs. 500,000 for The White Queen. With that and Power’s multiplatform sampling from the week-long on-demand and online sampling campaign, which yielded an additional 480,000 viewers,  the total viewership for the first episode has climbed up to 2.6 million to date. Additionally, the premiere has logged Starz’s youngest demos since Spartacus: War Of The Damned and an evenly balanced gender split (45% Women 18+, 48% Men 18+), which is rare for the male skewing pay cable network.

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Manu Bennett Signs With APA; ICM Partners Inks Madeline Brewer

By | Friday May 30, 2014 @ 1:04pm PDT

Manu BennettManu Bennett has signed with APA.  The New Zealander plays Orc chieftain Azog in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy and Slade Wilson/Death Stroke on The CW’s Arrow. He also starred as Crixus on Starz’s Spartacus and appeared in features including 30 Days Of Night, The Condemned and The Marine. Bennett also is repped by Sanders/Armstrong/Caserta and attorneys Jeff Frankel and Rob Goldman.

Madeline BrewerMadeline Brewer has inked with ICM Partners. She made her debut as Tricia Miller on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black and next appears in Season 2 of the streaming service’s original drama Hemlock Grove, playing a mysterious graphic novelist entering the town. She continues to be managed by Inphenate and lawyered by Schreck, Rose.

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Deadline’s Best TV Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday May 25, 2014 @ 5:14pm PDT

Catch up on the past week in TV news:

SpartacusSyfy Acquires Starz Drama ‘Spartacus’
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: Syfy has acquired U.S. basic cable rights to all 39 episodes of Starz’s Spartacus. That includes the three seasons of the swords-and-sandals drama as well as the six-part prequel Gods Of The Arena. Spartacus will make its Syfy debut June 26 and will air at 10 PM, following original series Defiance and Dominion.

Bill Hader To Create & Star In HBO Series
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader has signed an exclusive development deal with HBO to create and star in a new comedy series for the premium cable network. Hader is best known for his eight-season stint on SNL where he was one of the most popular cast members of the past decade, creating such memorable characters as NY club scene expert Stefon and Italian talk show host Vinni Vedechi and earning two Emmy nominations.

breaking-badEMMYS: AMC Launches ‘Breaking Bad’ FYC Billboard Campaign
By Dominic Patten
EXCLUSIVE: If you’re driving around LA today don’t be surprised to see Breaking Bad’s Walter White staring down at you. With a print campaign to follow next month, AMC is putting up Emmy consideration billboards in several locations around the city to remind voters that the now-completed show is still eligible to repeat its Best Drama series win last year. Read More »

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Steven S. DeKnight Joins Marvel’s Netflix Series ‘Daredevil’ As Showrunner

By | Saturday May 24, 2014 @ 12:29pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

deknightnewSpartacus creator/executive producer Steven S. DeKnight has been tapped as executive producer/showrunner of Marvel’s 13-episode series Daredevil, set to premiere on Netflix in 2015. Drew Goddard was originally tapped as writer/executive producer and director. He pulled out from directing duties in late March when Sony gave him a big feature assignment, to write and direct The Amazing Spider-Man spin-off film, The Sinister Six. Goddard did write the first two episodes of Daredevil and will remain as executive producer. Marvel had been looking for an experienced showrunner to shepherd the series, zeroing in on DeKnight, and the company just officially announced his hire. Search for a director to helm the opening episode continues.

DeKnight has been under an overall deal at Starz, spearheading an U.S. adaptation of the Italian drama Romanzo Criminale among other projects. He has been let out of his deal by Starz to do the Netflix series. Daredevil is the first of four 13-episode superhero series Marvel is producing for Netflix, to be followed by Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, with the characters from each show then coming together for an Avengers-type superhero teaming in a chapter-closing miniseries.

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Syfy Acquires Starz Drama ‘Spartacus’

By | Thursday May 22, 2014 @ 7:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Spartacus; EpisodeEXCLUSIVE: Syfy has acquired U.S. basic cable rights to all 39 episodes of Starz‘s Spartacus. That includes the three seasons of the  swords-and-sandals drama as well as the six-part prequel Gods Of The Arena. Spartacus will make its Syfy debut June 26 and will air at 10 PM, following original series Defiance and Dominion.

syfylogo1The Spartacus deal comes 16 years after then-5-year-old Sci Fi Channel made its biggest acquisition pact to date, spending $150 million for the exclusive basic cable rights to three other Showtime series, Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Stargate and Poltergeist went on to become original series on Sci Fi, which ordered additional seasons — five for Stargate and one for Poltergeist. Stargate became a signature series for Sci Fi, spawning a franchise. Read More »

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Fox’s Jim Gianopulos Delivers USC Film Commencement Speech; Marvel’s Kevin Feige Celebrates Rejection: Transcript

By | Friday May 16, 2014 @ 4:51pm PDT

Jim GianopulosThe Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment addressed 2014 graduates of USC‘s School of Cinematic Arts today at the Shrine Auditorium near the LA campus. Prior to Jim Gianopulos‘s speech, Marvel President and USC alumnus Kevin Feige received the school’s Mary Pickford Alumni Award, remembering his own time as a Trojan and sharing advice for the program’s aspiring filmmakers. Gianopulos joined the SCA Board of Councilors last year. Here’s a full transcript of Gianopulos’ speech, followed by highlights of Feige’s:

Congratulations Kevin on receiving the Mary Pickford foundation Award. It’s very well deserved for the great Marvel films you’ve produced, and I wish you continued success, as long as your movies aren’t opening on the same weekend as ours!

USCDean Daley, distinguished faculty, guests and—most important—all of you graduates in the class of 2014—it is an honor and a thrill for me to be here today.

I’d like to make one thing clear right away—I am not here to give you life-changing advice. As someone who’s worked in Hollywood for many years, the only thing I can tell you with certainty is… stay off the 405.

I have no easy answers, no mandated rules for living, no reminders to floss. The great journey you’re about to embark upon will be about exploring questions and finding your own answers to them, and trust me, it’s way better than thinking you have all the answers already.

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Spike TV Greenlights ‘Tut’ Six-Hour Event Series For Return To Scripted Programming

By | Monday May 5, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

King Tut Spike TV SeriesEXCLUSIVE: Exactly a year after signaling its intention to return to scripted programming with event series, Spike TV has greenlighted Tut, a six-hour series about Tutankhamun, aka King Tut (who reigned c. 1333 to 1323 BC), the youngest Pharaoh to rule Ancient Egypt, whose famous golden sarcophagus has become one of the symbols of the ancient civilization. This marks the first event/limited series for Spike since 2007′s The Kill Point, just as the genre is mounting a big comeback on television. “It spike tvcouldn’t be a better time for Spike to re-enter the scripted arena,” said EVP Original Series Sharon Levy, noting the network’s success on the unscripted side with such series as Bar Rescue and Ink Master. “We’re on the hunt for a drama series next,” she said, adding that she envisions “the future of Spike as a blend of event and drama series” on the scripted side.

Tut, which will premiere in 2015 supported by a full-bore marketing campaign, also marks the first time King Tut’s story has been told on television. The event series, from Canadian production company Muse Entertainment (The Kennedys), chronicles Tut’s rise to power and his struggle to lead Egypt to glory, while his closest advisers, friends and lovers scheme for their own nefarious interests. “It’s a big, epic story with complex characters, remarkable heroes and strong women,” Levy said. Tut will be shot on location in Morocco and Canada this fall. Read More »

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Erin Cummings To Star In ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 4:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

cummingserinSpartacus: Blood & Sand alumna Erin Cummings has been cast as one of the leads in ABC’s 10-episode summer drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book and directed by Nick Casavettes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Cummings, repped by Untitled and Paradigm, will play Marge, Deke Slayton’s outspoken wife, whose colorful past is not in keeping with the cookie-cutter image that the astronaut wives are expected to present to the world. Maternal and funny, she becomes the glue that holds the Astronaut Wives Club together. Cummings’ series credits also include ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7 and CBS’ Made In Jersey. She has three features coming out: Cold Comes The Night, Late Phases and The Last Word.

Related: 2014 ABC Pilots

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Starz’s ‘Da Vinci’s Demons’ Down In Season 2 Debut, On Par In Premiere Weekend

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 6:30pm PDT

Da Vinci's Demons Season 2 debutStarz‘s fantasy drama learned the hard way last weekend just how important a lead-in can be. With the 2013 pic White House Down playing beforehand, the Season 2 premiere of Da Vinci’s Demons fell 44% from its Season 1 debut last year. The Saturday night 9 PM airing on March 22 had 580,000 total viewers. Having the series finale of Spartacus: War Of The Damned as its lead-in, the Season 1 premiere pulled in 1.04 million total viewers in its 10 PM airing on on Friday, April 12. The news for the David S. Goyer-created series’ Season 2 debut gets a lot better when all its plays over the whole weekend are Starz logo 2014counted up. The Adjacent Productions show drew 2 million viewers over all its broadcasts last weekend. That’s just a 6% dip from the 2.14 million that Demons had over its Season 1 debut weekend last year. It’s also a 41% rise over the show’s Season 1 finale weekend in early June. The total plays for that weekend were 1.4 million. On its own, the Season 1 finale at 10PM on June 7 garnered 380,000 viewers – 34% fewer than the Season 2 debut. With Season 1 of the show getting an average audience of 1.6 million over its weekend airings, the Season 2 debut weekend was up 25%. Read More »

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Cynthia Addai-Robinson Lands Lead In History’s Texas Rangers Miniseries

By | Tuesday March 18, 2014 @ 8:05am PDT

Cynthia Addai-Robinsoncynthiarobinson1 (Spartacus: War Of The Damned) has been cast as the female lead in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Roland Joffé will direct. Robinson, repped by Innovative and Liebman Entertainment, will play Emily West, a mythic historical figure, later dubbed “the Yellow Rose of Texas,” who gets caught in a love triangle between Houston (Bill Paxton) and Santa Ana (Oliver Martinez). Robinson currently recurs on CW’s Arrow and also recurred on The Vampire DiariesTexas Rising is slated to premiere in 2015.

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SXSW: Marc Webb Keynote, Jason Bateman, Mike Myers Set For Film Conference Chats; Full Lineup Set

By | Wednesday February 12, 2014 @ 11:00am PST

SXSW 2014 moviesA keynote session with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 helmer Marc Webb leads the final lineup for the 2014 SXSW Film Conference slate which also includes chats with filmmakers Jason Bateman (Bad Words), Mike Myers (Supermensch) moderated by Jon Favreau, Ralph Steadman (For No Good Reason), and actors Robert Duvall and Tilda Swinton. The SXSW Film Festival runs March 7-15:

SXSW 2014 Features Lineup, New TV Section Unveiled
SXSW Midnighters & Full Shorts Slate Unveiled

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Tom Sherak: Remembering A True Hollywood Star

By | Tuesday January 28, 2014 @ 7:25pm PST
Pete Hammond

Tom Sherak got a star today on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Actually it was dated February 14, 2014, the day the ceremony was planned. Buttom_sherak_top3 knowing his condition was worsening by the hour, the installation was moved up and the plaque was sent over and presented to Tom. He may not have been fully aware, but I hope he was. It probably doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. The fact is everyone in this town knew what tourists strolling down the Hollywood Walk Of Fame will soon find out. Tom Sherak was a star — and a champion. Deadline’s obituary states many of the reasons why. So let me make this personal.

Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
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Starz’s ‘Black Sails’ Debuts OK

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 2:12pm PST

BlackSails1_041913_3790.mediumThere was lots of high drama on the high seas for the premiere of Starz‘s new series Black Sails on Saturday night. Debuting at 9 PM ET, the Michael Bay-produced Treasure Island prequel pulled in 846,000 viewers, down from the 1.04 million that Da Vinci’s Demons drew for its April 12, 2013, debut on the cable channel but better than the 819,000 who tuned in for 2011’s Torchwood: Miracle Day. While premiering on a Saturday as opposed to a Friday like Demons, Black Sails also did not have the advantage of the series finale of Spartacus: War Of The Damned as a lead-in as Demons did. On the bigger Starz sea, Black Sails did fare better than the launch of miniseries White Queen (457,000 for its preview and 418,000 for its premiere last August 17) as well as the now-cancelled Magic City (295,000) and Boss (659,000). Over all plays on Starz this weekend, Black Sails picked up another 445,000 viewers (for its 10 PM showing), 228,000 (11 PM) and 135,000 (2 AM) telecast for a total of just more than 1.65 million viewers. The Starz premiere high mark remains Camelot, which drew 1.125 million in its 2011 debut.

Starz Ballet Drama ‘Flesh And Bone’ Gets Series Order, Casts Lead
TCA: Starz’s Chris Albrecht Read More »

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Starz’s ‘Outlander’ Fully Expected To Get A Second Season; ‘Incursion’ Still Alive

By | Friday January 10, 2014 @ 7:33pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

It has already been a great day for the legions of (predominantly female) fans of Diana Gabaldon‘s wildly popular Outlander time-travel romantic novels as Starz released a new image from its series adaptation of the first book depicting hero Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) shirtless. Here is more good news for them: Sony TV-produced Outlander, Outlander 2014currently in production on its 16-episode freshman season, will do at least one more. “I would be shocked if we didn’t do the second book,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told me after the Scotland-set show’s session at TCA that featured writer and showrunner Ron Moore in a kilt. It is not only the enormous and enormously passionate fan base of the books, though that is not lost on Starz brass. Albrecht said he is very high on the early footage he has seen and didn’t spare praise for Battlestar Galactica developer/executive producer Moore’s skills as a top-notch writer and producer.

Related: TCA: “They Want To Lick Him”, ‘Outlander’ Author Says Of Fans And Her Hero

Even without the big vote of confidence from Albrecht, Outlander has the odds in its favor as all original dramas ordered by Albrecht have gone to second season with one exception, Camelot. I asked Albrecht about Starz’s “two-season curse” as no series since Spartacus has been able to go to a third season.

Related: TCA: Starz’s Chris Albrecht On 2014 Plans, ‘White Queen’ Sequel, ‘Magic City’s Demise

“You want a show that really makes a difference,” he said. The exec believes that good serialized dramas need time to reach their potential, which explains his willingness to hand freshman series a second season, but if he feels a show won’t go to the next level, he doesn’t have much trepidation about pulling the plug. (Albrecht did, however, regret the Kelsey Grammer drama Boss not getting a satisfying closure at the end of its two-season run the way Magic City did.) “TV shows are assets, not shrines,” he said. “You put them on; if they do the job, you keep them, if they don’t, you don’t.” Read More »

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TCA: ‘Black Sails’ Star Toby Stephens Not A Big Fan Of Mom Maggie Smith’s ‘Downton Abbey’

By | Friday January 10, 2014 @ 12:31pm PST

Black SailsStarz‘s new swashbuckling pirate adventure series/Treasure Island prequel from Michael Bay goes 24 full minutes without nudity, which is a record for the pay cable network, a TV critic announced during the Black Sails Q&A session at  TCA where Starz also released a new trailer for the new series. (watch below) The critic then asked Starz if being the “boobs and blood” network is something it embraces. To their credit, everyone from Starz who was in the rTCADeadline__140109155905__140109183154oom resisted the urge to hit the critic over the head with a blunt instrument. Instead, they explained that it’s “part of the possibility of pay TV” that Starz can tell stories without ad breaks, and without broadcast or even basic cable TV content restrictions. And, of course, Not Gratuitous.

Related: TCA: Starz’s Chris Albrecht On 2014 Plans, ‘White Queen’ Sequel, ‘Magic City’s Demise

Show creator/exec producer Jonathan Steinberg told the TV critics he’d never felt pressure to make this show sexier, or more violent. The show is violent, and the violence is sudden “the way violence feels in real life,” he explained. And, in re sex, he noted the pirates “almost certainly had sex in a world where none of them had job and they can kind of do what they will. I don’t think it ever gets gratuitous.”

Related: TCA: “They Want To Lick Him” ‘Starz’s Outlander’ Author Says Of Fans And Her Hero

Starz_logoStar Toby Stephens, Maggie Smith’s son, who has done his share of drawing-room period dramas, was asked if he watched his mom on Downton Abbey and if he prefers drawing room dramas or Black Sails. “I would any day of the week prefer to do the show I’m doing now,” he said. “I appreciate Downton for what it is. I have to say I don’t regularly tune in. It’s not the kind of show that I enjoy. I appreciate what my mom does in it, and she’s great in it. It’s not what I enjoy watching. This kind of thing is like going on an exotic vacation,” he said of Black Sails. In the UK, he said, “we do a lot of  that the kind of stuff like Downton, and a lot of detective stuff. For me, that’s kind of like ‘Seen that, done it’. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.”

Related: Starz Pulls Out Of Sky Atlantic Series ‘Fortitude’, To Fast Track Internal Projects
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