At the top of Starz‘s TCA session, CEO Chris Albrecht did his semi-annual State Of The Network overview, laying out his programming plans for the next year. Starz will continue to push into original programming, which accounts for almost half of Starz’s top telecasts despite representing only 5% of the pay cable’s network schedule and has fueled Starz’s streak of eight consecutive quarters of subscriber growth. First off this year is the January 25 premiere of pirate drama Black Sails, which already has been renewed for a second season — a move Albrecht called “a good and economically responsible” decision following the enthusiastic response at Comic-Con. It will be followed by the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons, which Albrecht announced will premiere on March 22; the contemporary crime underworld drama Power in late spring; and Ron Moore’s adaptation of the blockbuster Outlander books in Q3. Starz had originally slotted Sky Atlantic’s upcoming drama series Fortitude for the fourth quarter. Last month, Starz pulled out of the project because of its changed filming schedule. The network put several internal projects on fast track — including ballet drama Flesh And Bone, which already has been casting and has hired a choreographer; Survivor’s Remorse, exec produced by LeBron James; and WonderWorld, set in Ronald Reagan’s America — and Albrecht today said he plans to make a decision on which one would fill the Q3 series slot within the next couple of weeks.
EXCLUSIVE: It is the end of the road for Starz‘s Magic City. The pay cable network has opted not to order a third season of the period drama, with the Season 2 finale on Friday serving as a series finale. Magic City, which chronicled the collision of mobsters, politicians and entertainers at a posh Miami hotel in 1959, just as Fidel Castro took control of Cuba, was created by Mitch Glazer based his own recollection of growing up in Miami. “We are tremendously proud of the series and everyone involved,” Starz said in a statement. “From the writers, to the cast and crew, it has been an incredible collaboration. This was a story born from Mitch Glazer’s singular vision of Miami, the Magic City of his childhood, and we are grateful to him for bringing it to life on Starz. The season’s story arc will allow us to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the series, and we thank all the fans who checked in to the Miramar Playa.” At TCA last month, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht teased that the last few episodes of the show contain a lot of surprises that will answer questions.
EXCLUSIVE: Starz‘s Miami-set period drama Magic City is beefing up the cast for Season 2 with major additions. I’ve learned that Sonny Corleone himself, veteran actor James Caan, is joining the series in a major recurring role, along with NYPD Blue alum Esai Morales.
Set in 1959 Miami shortly after the Cuban Revolution, Magic City tells the story of Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the owner of Miami’s glitzy Miramar Playa hotel, who is forced to make a deal with local mob boss Ben Diamond (Danny Huston). Caan will play Sy Berman, the head of the Chicago mob and Diamond’s boss. A father figure to Ben, Sy saw the potential in the young con and encouraged Ben’s criminal talents — creating “The Butcher.” Unbeknownst to Ben, Sy also has a secret connection to Ben’s wife Lily (Jessica Marais). Morales will play Carlos Ruiz, a former rebel who once fought beside Castro but now works to free Cuba from the man he once considered a brother.
Bringing in Caan to Magic City is fitting as the series is said to be inspired by The Godfather, which co-starred Caan in his signature, Oscar-nominated role as Sonny Corleone. On Magic City, Caan will be reunited with follow Godfather alum Alex Rocco, who recurs as Ike’s father Arthur.
Ratings for Starz’s new period drama Magic City are still low, but they are moving in the right direction. In its second week, the period drama drew 370,000 total viewers in its premiere airing …
Analysts attending Liberty Media’s annual investor day on Thursday will be listening carefully when Starz CEO Chris Albrecht discusses his channel’s plans. His boss, Liberty Chairman John Malone, loves to buy, sell, and swap assets — as long as he can do so without paying a big tax bill. And there’s a growing belief that Malone is positioning Starz for a deal as the company focuses its branding efforts around more than 50 hours of original programs — including Boss, Magic City, Spartacus, and Da Vinci’s Demons — instead of theatrical films from Disney and Sony. For example, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield says in a blog post today that “a transaction may…be coming to turn Starz into an asset based security” instead of just part of the Liberty Starz tracking stock. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says that Starz’ “strategic benefits could make it an M&A target.” Maxim Group’s John Tinker agrees that Starz “should be merged into a larger entity.”
Albrecht reinforced those views recently by talking up his desire to have the channel stand out as a premium service. On Friday he elaborated at the Monaco Media Forum on points he made earlier in the week on the Liberty earnings call: The channel scrapped its effort to negotiate a new streaming deal with Netflix because it didn’t set Starz apart from the video pack.
Starz recently released the first trailer for its upcoming period drama Magic City, set in 1959 Miami. It stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a hotelier and family man with ties to the mob. Co-starring are Olga Kurylenko as his wife and Danny Huston as a mob boss. The series …