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: WME has signed Mitch Glazer, the veteran screenwriter who has been spending most of his time recently writing his Starz dramatic series creation Magic City. Glazer had long been a client of Jeff Berg, and moved with him when he formed Resolution. He most recently wrote and directed the art house film Passion Play, which starred Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox, and his scripting credits include Scrooged and Great Expectations.
James Caan and Esai Morales joined the cast for Season 2 of Magic City, the Starz original series set in 1950s-era Miami at the glamorous Miramar Playa Hotel. The network today announced the second season will bow Friday, June 14 at 9 PM, a week after the season finale of another Starz original series, Da Vinci’s Demons. Along with creator Mitch Glazer, Geyer Kosinski returns as an executive producer. Fred Berner and Colin Callender join as executive producers.
No Season 2 summer premiere date yet for Mitch Glazer’s Starz mob drama, which is set at the glamorous Miramar Playa hotel in turbulent 1950s Miami. But here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the new season of the original series Magic City, which includes cast newcomers James Caan and Esai Morales and the promise of more blood spilled.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Season 2 of Starz’ Magic City will expand the action to Havana, Cuba and Chicago, and adds to the cast Godfather veteran James Caan as the mob boss overseeing Ben “The Butcher” Diamond. Show creator/writer/director Mitch Glazer calls the canvas “bigger and yet more intimate than last season.”
And at today’s TCA panel on Starz, Caan talked about why he took the role, at first joking that he was in line to take over a square on Hollywood Squares when Glazer called. More seriously, he said it was the quality of the material. But when asked whether doing another mob role after Godfather represented coming full circle in his career, Caan said: “I’m not Anthony Quinn just yet. The truth is that I care very much about what I do, I try to maintain a little bit of integrity. I had the pleasure of watching [the show] beforehand, it was just well-written, beautifully shot, and I thought it would be fun in a creative way and it was. I really didn’t have any specific reason other than that it was good.” Watch a trailer for the new season below.
Cast member Danny Huston …
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 at 10 PM on Friday. That was up 25% from the series’ official debut the previous Friday. For the night, Magic City’s second episode averaged 556,000 viewers over two airings in Live+Same Day, up 31%. This was Episode 2′s first run on Starz (the pilot episode had been previewed behind the season finale of Spartacus before its official premiere) but, along with Episodes 1 and 3, it has been available for free sampling through cable and satellite providers. Starz estimates that the first episode has received 3.5 million views to date. Episode 2′s current tally is 1.75 million.
In its official premiere at 10 PM on Friday, Starz’s new period drama Magic City drew only 295,000 viewers, well below the network’s most recent series premiere of Boss (659,000) and far off the debuts of Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena, (1.098 million), Camelot (1.125 million) and Torchwood: Miracle Day (819,000). For the 10 and 11 PM airings on Friday, the Magic City premiere averaged a combined 423,000 viewers vs. 1.05 million for Boss, and 965,000 for the weekend vs. 1.72 million for Boss.
There were two mitigating factors: first, Magic City‘s premiere fell on Good Friday when fewer people were watching TV, and secondly, it had already run on Starz the week before. Just like the first episode of HBO’s Luck aired a preview behind the season finale of Boardwalk Empire before officially premiering it a month later, the Magic City opener aired behind the Spartacus finale the previous week when it did better, drawing 730,000 viewers in Live+3. Starz says that the pilot episode of Magic City has been seen by 2.5 million Starz viewers to date, including 670,000 on-demand views. Of course, Magic City‘s fate doesn’t depend on ratings: the series starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan was renewed for a second season ahead of its premiere.
Starz has done it again — renewing a series before its premiere. The pay cable network has given a second-season pickup to period drama Magic City ahead of its April 6 debut. Word is Starz brass feel good about the series and it’s already been pre-sold into 70 territories internationally, making it a lucrative property for the network. Last fall, Starz renewed drama series Boss for a second season three weeks before the series’ debut. The network has done the same with its flagship drama Spartacus, which received second- and third-season pickups ahead of the series and second-season premieres, respectively.
Magic City examines the collision of mobsters, politicians and entertainers at a posh Miami hotel just as Fidel Castro takes control of Cuba and shuts down Havana as a gambling haven. 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. Magic City was created by Mitch Glazer, who is executive producing with Geyer Kosinski. Starz is giving Magic City a major promotional push: The pilot episode will get a preview after the season finale of Spartacus: Vengeance on March 30. That will be followed by a massive sampling campaign, with the series’ first three episodes made available to some 76 million viewers on a variety of platforms.
Starz will preview the pilot episode of new period drama Magic City after the season finale of Spartacus: Vengeance on March 30. That will be followed by a massive sampling campaign for Magic City ahead of its April 6. The first three episodes of the show starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be available on a slew of platforms, including starz.com, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, AT&T U-verse TV, making the episodes available to some 76 million viewers.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA
Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht said today at TCA the cable channel will support its struggling series Boss during its second season, but acknowledged the show needs to begin to “resonate” with affiliates and subscribers to survive. Starz’ panels today also featured the new series Magic City and the returning Spartacus: Vengeance, both part of Starz’s effort to brand itself as a home for original programming. But those shows took second seat to Boss during Albrecht’s Q&A session. “Our sponsors are thrilled [with Boss],” he said to some laughter. “I have not heard complaints from any of them.” Starz renewed Boss for a second season before the show had even made its Season 1 debut, and Albrecht said the network would make the same decision again. “We are not doing pilots, that’s a different process,” he said. “The way I’m looking at this, Starz is trying to create a brand. We are going to support the show into the second season. It’s the right thing for Starz to do. It’s easy to pull the plug.” Boss stars Kelsey Grammer as the unscrupulous mayor of Chicago hiding debilitating disease. Albrecht said Starz did not renew freshman costume drama Camelot because “there were too many challenges on the production side of the show.”
Meanwhile, sibling Encore will air the four-part BBC miniseries The Crimson Petal And The White, an adaptation of Michel Faber’s bestselling novel. It will make its U.S. debut March 6. The psychological thriller set in the underbelly of Victorian-era London stars Romola Garai (Atonement) and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), with Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Shirley Henderson (Harry Potter) and Richard E. Grant (Withnail and I).
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 premieres in the spring.
Fantastic Four alum Ioan Gruffudd is set to star opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in the CBS drama pilot Ringer. The project centers on troubled young woman Bridget (Gellar) who, while on the run from the mob, hides out by inhabiting the life of her rich twin sister, Siobhan, until she learns that her twin’s life has a bounty on it as well. Gruffudd will play Siobhan’s wealthy, well-traveled and cultured husband Andrew who senses something different about his wife. Also cast in Ringer is Mike Colter as Bridget’s AA sponsor, joining previously cast Nestor Carbonell. Welsh-born Gruffudd, repped by WME and the Collective, is best known for his role as Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four franchise. Colter has done an arc on CBS’ The Good Wife.
British actor Christian Cooke and Steven Strait (Stop-Loss) are in final negotiations for co-starring roles opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Starz’s upcoming 10-episode drama series Magic City. Set in Miami in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Magic City chronicles the collision of mobsters, politicians and entertainers at the first preeminent Miami hotel just as Fidel Castro takes control of Cuba and shuts down Havana as a gambling haven. It centers on Ike (Morgan), a suave Jewish-American man who builds the …
EXCLUSIVE: Grey’s Anatomy alum Jeffrey Dean Morgan is in final negotiations to play the lead in Starz’s upcoming 10-episode drama series Magic City. Set in Miami in the late 1950s-early 1960s, Magic City chronicles the collision of mobsters, politicians and entertainers at the first preeminent Miami hotel just as Fidel Castro takes control of Cuba and shuts down Havana as a gambling haven. It centers on a suave Jewish-American man (Morgan) who builds the hotel and along the way makes some strange bedfellows and many powerful enemies. The series was created by Mitch Glazer who is executive producing it with Geyer Kosinski and Tony To. Production is slated to begin shortly in Miami for a 2012 premiere.
Morgan, who simultaneously recurred on Grey’s as heart transplant patient Denny Duquette who had a relationship with Izzie (Katherine Heigl), and on Supernatural as the mysterious father of Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Deal (Jensen Ackles), recently starred in the features Watchmen and The Losers. The actor, repped by UTA and Precision, has just signed to star in Lionsgate’s horror thriller Dibbuk Box produced by Sam Raimi and wrapped the indies The Fields and Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding.
EXCLUSIVE: Starz has made a 10-episode commitment to Magic City, a period drama series that captures the collision of mobsters, politicians and entertainers at a posh Miami hotel just as Fidel Castro takes control of Cuba and shuts down Havana as a gambling haven. Mitch Glazer created the series and has written the first three episodes — he’ll write five more — of a series that will start production early next year in Miami and will air on Starz in 2012. It’s being produced by Media Talent Group, whose CEO, Geyer Kosinski will be executive producer with Glazer and Tony To. The subject matter is a tightrope in dealing with the mob, his own complicated family, racial tensions and a city that is about to blow up as a destination for decadence. “Mitch has created a world populated with unforgettable characters and with a big dynamic story,” said Starz president/CEO Chris Albrecht in a statement. “The talented creative team that has come together for Magic City will ensure a show that we think audiences won’t want to miss.” Glazer based the series on his own recollection of growing up in Miami. “I was born and raised in Miami Beach, grew up in those swank hotel lobbies,” Glazer said. “I love that world and those stories. Miami in the early ‘60s was a tropical crossroads, America’s Casablanca. The Rat Pack, CIA, the mob, JFK and anti-Castro warriors, all hanging out in the same Collins …