EXCLUSIVE: Starz is developing an U.S. adaptation of the Italian drama Romanzo Criminale. It will be written by Steven S. DeKnight, creator/showrunner of Starz’s most successful original series, Spartacus, who is serving as executive producer and showrunner as part of his overall deal with the pay cable network. Lionsgate, which previously produced Boss for Starz, is the studio, with Steve McPherson, who has a first-look deal there, executive producing alongside Scripted World’s Alon Aranya and Rob Golenberg (Betrayal). The 2008 Italian drama revolves around a gang that controls Rome’s heroin trade in the 1970s and 1980s. The U.S. adaptation will be set in Philadelphia during the turbulent era of the late sixties and early seventies. The story will chronicle the rise of a gang of working class criminals who attempt to seize the American Dream by any means necessary.
Scripted World’s Aranya and Golenberg had been eyeing Romanzo Criminale for years. They finally landed the rights about 18 months ago and took the format to Lionsgate. When the studio signed a first-look deal with McPherson in April, it attached the executive-turned-producer to the project. The drama was taken to Starz, which brought in DeKnight.
The Italian series, which aired on Sky Cinema, was based on the 2002 novel by Giancarlo De Cataldo, which in turn was inspired by the notorious Magliana gang. The series was a followup to the 2005 feature adaptation of the book directed by famous Italian actor Michele Placido (La Piovra). You can watch below a trailer for the series in Italian and one for the movie with English subtitles that better explains the setup. Read More »
Elizabeth Rohm and J.R. Ramirez have joined the cast of Starz’s drama seriesPower, about wealthy New York City nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who wants to build an empire and turn the club into a Fortune 500 business. But there’s just one problem: He is living a double life. When he is not in the club, he is the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Starz is fast-tracking its ballet drama project, now titledFlesh And Bone. No formal green light yet, but the show, from executive producers Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi and creator/exec producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), has been actively casting, locking in four accomplished dancers for supporting roles. Additionally, Ethan Stiefel, star of the movies Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up, has joined the project as consultant and choreographer. He is the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre from 1997-2012. Nationwide search for the lead role, Claire Robbins, continues, with more than 1,000 dancers already auditioned. Described as a dark and gritty exploration of the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world, Flesh And Bone follows a young ballet dancer, Claire, who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Cast in key supporting roles are former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, current American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (Center Stage), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner, and Emily Tyra (Boardwalk Empire). Read More »
HBO and Starz garnered three nominations each as the American Society of Cinematographers announced its TV nominees for the ASC Awards today. Winners will be announced at the 28th ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography set for February 1 at Hollywood & Highland Ray Dolby Ballroom. Here are the noms:
One-Hour Episodic Television Series
Steven Bernstein, ASC for Starz Network’s Magic City (“The Sins of the Father”)
David Franco for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire (“Erlkönig”)
Jonathan Freeman, ASC for HBO’s Game of Thrones (“Valar Dohaeris”)
Pierre Gill, CSC for Showtime’s The Borgias (“The Purge”)
David Greene, CSC for The CW’s Beauty And the Beast (“Tough Love”)
Anette Haellmigk for HBO’s Game Of Thrones (“Kissed by Fire”)
Kramer Morgenthau, ASC for Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (“Pilot”)
Ousama Rawi, BSC, CSC for NBC’s Dracula (“The Blood is the Life”)
Half-Hour Episodic Series
Peter Levy, ACS, ASC for Showtime’s House Of Lies (“The Runner Stumbles”)
Matthew J. Lloyd, CSC for Amazon’s Alpha House (“Pilot”)
Blake McClure for Comedy Central’s Drunk History (“Detroit”)
Jeremy Benning, CSC for National Geographic Channel’s Killing Lincoln
David Luther for Starz Network’s The White Queen (“War at First Hand”)
Ashley Rowe, BSC for Starz Network’s Dancing On The Edge (Episode 1.1)
EXCLUSIVE: Actress/DJ/TV personality La La Anthony(Think Like A Man) has joined the cast of Starz’s drama seriesPower, which also has added theater actor Andy Bean and Debbi Morgan. The project tells the story of wealthy New York City nightclub owner James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), who wants to build an empire and turn the club into a Fortune 500 business, but there’s just one problem: He is living a double life. When he is not in the club, he is the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. Anthony, star of VH1′s reality series La La’s Full Court Life, will play LaKeisha Grant – childhood friend to Tasha St. Patrick (Naturi Naughto) and her closest confidant who is kept in the dark on certain aspects of Tasha’s life out of necessity. She is repped by APA, Untitled and Rosenfeld Meyer. Bean, repped by TalentWorks and Magnolia Entertainment, plays Greg, Angela’s (Lela Loren) super-fit and over-protective boyfriend who is not what he seems. Morgan, repped by Hartig Hilepo Agency, Will play Estelle, Tasha’s mom.
Investors who want to know whether Starz is a good bet will hear CEO Chris Albrecht’s sales pitch at a meeting later today. But based on his comments to CNBC’s David Faber this morning, they can expect to hear him vigorously defend his strategy to replace some of his Hollywood movies with original shows. “We have really just now decided to take the bull by the horn” with about 40 hours of originals in 2014, Albrecht says. Starz “needs to find a way to get more at-bats” and target women and others who are often overlooked on premium TV networks which attract a disproportionate number of older men.
Starz has made changes to its Encore pack of channels citing the nation’s evolving demographics and focusing on groups who over-index in viewing within the premium pay TV category. That translates to shuffling some of the eight Encore-branded channels to target baby boomers, Black and Latino audiences and the company acquiring older TV series to serve them, something rarely done on premium cable which is traditionally built on movies and original series. Starz also is launching a horror block on Encore Suspense.
Beginning December 2, Encore Drama will be replaced by Encore Black, a channel catering to the African-American community, traditionally over-indexed on premium channel viewership. The channel’s programming lineup will include Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand Up and off-network series What’s Happening!!, Diff’rent Strokes, 227, and Amen. The December launch will spotlight actor Samuel L. Jackson with films such as Unbreakable, Losing Isaiah, Freedomland and One Eight Seven.
Another HD channel, Encore Classic, will replace Encore Love. It will focus on the Baby Boomer set, with a mix of movies and classic TV series such as Murphy Brown, Magnum, P.I., and Night Court, Kramer vs. Kramer, American Graffiti, Independence Day, Breaking Away, Stand By Me, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery, Good Will Hunting, Tootsie, Basic Instinct and The Notebook. Read More »
Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, recently seen in The Wolverine, is set to co-star opposite Halle Berry in CBS’ upcoming summer drama series Extant, from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV and CBS Studios. Created by Mickey Fisher, it centers on an astronaut (Berry) who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history. Sanada will play a wealthy technological genius who put his wealth to work privatizing the world’s space programs into a single entity. The actor — repped by CAA, Axon Entertainment, Lighthouse Entertainment and Sheppard, Mullin — just finished voicing a character in Universal’s Despicable Me Minions spinoff and will next be seen as the chief Samurai Oishi in Universal Pictures’ 47 Ronin and the Weinstein Co’s The Railway Man.
Beverly Hills, Calif. – November 7, 2013 – Starz CEO Chris Albrecht announced today the promotion of John B. Penney to the position of Chief Strategy Officer for Starz, LLC. He will work with the CEO, executive committee, as well as heads of the business units, to extend Starz’s corporate and business growth strategies. In this role, Penney will develop and implement strategic initiatives including partnerships, ventures and innovative models for new business opportunities across the Starz family of companies. Previously at Starz, Penney held the position of Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development. He will continue to report into Albrecht in the Beverly Hills offices.
The premium networks company had a lot to crow about in the period including the success of its series The White Queen.But it’s still growing, and that resulted in investments that prevented much of the additional cash coming in from reaching the bottom line. Starz reported net income of $52.2M, -7.4%, even though revenues rose 11.2% to $446.1M. That number topped the $406.1M that analysts expected. But earnings per share at 43 cents were a penny shy of the consensus forecast. The Starz network ended the quarter with 22M subscribers, +5.8% vs last year, while Encore had 35M, +2%. Revenues at the networks operation were basically flat at $319.9M as higher rates were partially offset by fewer subs under “consignment agreements,” the company says. But Starz Distribution revenues were +56.8% to $117.6M with help from agreements to distribute The Weinstein Company titles and AMC’s The Walking Dead. But outlays for investments in films and TV programs increase 67% to $110.1M. “We are in the early stages of executing on our strategy to create compelling original programming that when combined with exclusive first-run movies offers a significant value proposition for our distributors and consumers,” CEO Chris Albrecht says.
The latest project in development at Starz joins recent additions WonderWorld, an hourlong scripted drama from Owen Wilson, Rene Balcer, Fred Berner, and Regina Lee about two straight-arrow FBI agents who infiltrate the violent Mob-controlled porn industry of the 1980s; and Most Wanted, a drama project from writer Chris Collins, director Ken Fink and author Dan Chaon. Set in the Great Plains during the 1970s, it traces the rise and demise of Nate Daniels, a talented and prolific bank robber who finds himself on a collision course with his family and crew as he becomes one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. The pay network recently promoted Melissa Harper and Richter Hartig to SVPs in Original Programming Production who had been credited with the increase in original programming production in their roles as VPs. Here’s today’s release:
Beverly Hills, Calif. – November 5, 2013 – Starz Managing Director, Carmi Zlotnik, announced today that STARZ has put into development a new half-hour scripted dramedy, “Heartbeats,” from Hypnotic’s Doug Liman and Dave Bartis, Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and writers Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan. “Heartbeats” is an intimate glimpse into the constantly intersecting and diverging lives of Bobby and Kristen; two down-to-Earth individuals who would be perfect for each other, if only they had met at a different time. “Heartbeats” will explore their story with an episode format that focuses alternatingly on Bobby and Kristen.
Starz has put into development hourlong scripted drama WonderWorld, from Owen Wilson, Rene Balcer, Fred Berner, and Regina Lee. Set in Ronald Reagan’s America and inspired by one of the biggest undercover operations in FBI history, WonderWorld follows two straight-arrow FBI agents as they infiltrate the violent Mob-controlled porn industry of the 1980s, with dire consequences for themselves and their families. Wilson is executive producing. Emmy winner Rene Balcer will be writer and showrunner and will executive produce alongside Wilson and Berner, with Lee serving as a producer. Wilson is repped by UTA and attorney Bob Wallerstein; Balcer is with UTA and Don Walerstein; Berner is with Verve and Jeanne Newman.
Starz this morning unveiled a photo of Sam Heughan in character for its original series Outlander, adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international bestselling novels, debuting in 2014. Heughan plays Jamie Fraser, an 18th century Scottish warrior who marries Claire Randall, a combat nurse from 1945 (Caitriona Balfe), when she accidentally winds up in his century. After Deadline broke the news of the Ronald D. Moore project from Sony TV landing at the network back in November, a premature tweet by Starz in July revealed Heughan had landed the male lead; Starz officially confirmed its own scoop the next week. ”From the very beginning, I knew the part of Jamie Fraser would be difficult to cast,” Moore said at that time, which went over so well that, two months later, he said similar: “The casting of Claire Randall was a long and difficult one.” Apparently casting was a bitch on this project. Anyway, we like the results:
EXCLUSIVE:Starz has put in development Most Wanted, a drama project from writer Chris Collins, director Ken Fink and author Dan Chaon. Set in the Great Plains during the 1970s, Most Wanted traces the rise and demise of Nate Daniels, a talented and prolific bank robber who finds himself on a collision course with his family and crew as he becomes one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. “This period in American history was an incredibly rich and complex time, and we saw Most Wanted as an opportunity to bring these stories to life,” said Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik. “We are excited to give this project the premium cable platform and to be in business with Chris, Ken and Dan.”Read More »
Melissa Harper and Richter Hartig have been promoted from VP level to Senior Vice Presidents in Original Programming Production at Starz. Their appointments were announced today by Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik. Both have been credited with a dramatic increase in original programming production in their roles as VPS and will continue to expand their responsibilities as the slate continues to grow. Harper joined Starz in 2006 as part of the IDT Entertainment acquisition and subsequent creation of Starz Media. There she was a part of the live action department providing production support and management on a slate of movies and series for other networks including the Syfy, Lifetime, and IFC. Since then Harper has provided oversight for the production and delivery of recent series such as Boss, Spartacus, Magic City, Da Vinci’s Demons, The White Queen, and the upcoming Starz original series Black Sails, Power, and Outlander Hartig also joined Starz in 2006 upon the creation of Starz Media. He has served in various programming business roles at Starz, acting as a nexus between TV production and corporate/finance.
Lela Loren (Gang Related), Naturi Naughton (Mad Men) and Joseph Sikora (Boardwalk Empire) will co-star opposite Omari Hardwick in the upcoming original drama seriesPower, executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and created/exec produced and ran by Courtney Kemp Agboh. Power tells the story of wealthy New York City nightclub owner, James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Hardwick), who caters to the city’s elite. He wants to build an empire, turn the club into a Fortune 500 business, but there’s just one problem: he is living a double life. When he is not in the club, he is the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York for a very high-level clientele. Loren, repped by Inspire Entertainment and SDB Partners, plays Angela Valdes, an old flame of James’ who unexpectedly re-enters his life. Naughton, repped by Innovative Artists and Luber Roklin, will play James’ wife, confidant and willing accomplice Tasha. Sikora, repped by UTA, MJ Management and, Rick Genow, plays Tommy Egan, James’ childhood best friend and business partner. Power will begin production on an eight-episode first season this fall for a 2014 premiere. Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and David Knoller also exec produce for CBS TV Studios.
Starz has dropped a new trailer for the Michael Bay-produced pirate adventure Black Sails. The high-seas drama produced a lot of buzz at Comic-Con, solidifying a decision by network brass to give it a second season renewal ahead of its January 2014 premiere. The story takes place 20 years before the events in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and chronicles the tales of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and his men, including young John Silver (Luke Arnold). Check it out:
Starz has looked like takeover bait since January when Liberty Media spun off the premium networks company. And investment bankers “of every shape, color, and size have come to us to talk about their best ideas,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told investors this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference. But “there hasn’t been anything yet that makes sense to us.” So he continues to plug ahead with a strategy to boost the number of original shows Starz airs, and expand the number of platforms where the networks he controls are offered. Next year Starz should have about 50 hours of originals — and Albrecht says he’d like to increase that to about 75 hours, close to what HBO offers. “HBO has a lot of everything, including money.” He’s not certain how long it will take to get there because “those decisions haven’t been made yet” and the company’s tentative plans provide opportunities for it to “press pause” if shows fail to perform as well as he expects. A lot depends on the deals Starz can make to co-produce new series, or licence them, overseas.
EXCLUSIVE: Starz has put in development Gringo, a drama written by Spartacus alums Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing and executive produced by Steve Lee Jones (HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack) of Bee Holder Prods. Inspired byThe Shadow Catcher, the nonfiction book by decorated U.S. Immigration Officer Hipolito Acosta, Gringo will chronicle a Mexican-American Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent who infiltrates one of Mexico’s most deadly drug and human smuggling cartels. Acosta, who wrote Shadow Catcher with Lisa Pulitzer, will serve as a a consultant. “Gringo provides a thrilling and uniquely personal look into international organized crime, never seen by the American public, from the viewpoint of a federal undercover agent on the front lines,” said Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik. Read More »