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TCA: Chris Albrecht On ‘Spartacus’, Comedy

Nellie Andreeva

Spartacus: Blood and Sand will continue. Ending months of speculation, Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht confirmed that the costume drama will proceed with Season 2. “We are officially going ahead with the long planned but unfortunately delayed second season of Spartacus,” he said at the opening of Starz’s TCA session. “We don’t have casting news but … we’re very confident where we are in the casting process that we will find an actor who will step in the sandals of Spartacus although we will never be able to replace (cancer-stricken original star) Andy Whitfield.” In November, Starz flew 3 actors to New Zealand, with one of them, Australian Liam McIntyre, still in the running for the lead as he is bulking up for the task.

Albrecht was unapologetic about the channel’s creative direction towards noisy, commercial dramas or as he called it “premium TV-flavored popcorn. “We’re leaving the quiet dramas to other networks.” Here are few more soundbites from Albrecht’s short impromptu Q&A:

- On how Starz is able to do expensive-looking costume dramas like Spartacus and Camelot: “We borrowed costumes from Rome,” a series he once launched on HBO.

- On Starz’s decision to get out of the comedy series business with the cancellation of Party Down: “We’re not a very funny group.” He then added: “We decided to focus on one-hour dramas, those are the kind of productions that travel better. And it takes one to fill an hour, it’s hard to find two comedies that go together. So … Read More »

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Starz To End Both ‘Party Down’ & ‘Gravity’

Nellie Andreeva

partyDown_keyartEXCLUSIVE: Starz has decided not to renew comedy series Party Down and Gravity. I hear the pay cable network may make the announcement later today. Both shows were developed and launched by Starz’s previous regime, but new president and CEO Chris Albrecht has stated gravityrepeatedly that he is big fan of Party Down. While the off-beat comedy has become an instant cult classic, I hear at the end of the day its appeal was deemed not wide enough to keep the show beyond its recently concluded Season 2. Consider this: The Season 2 finale of Party Down and Season one close of Gravity last week drew a 0.0 rating in adults 18-49 each and total audiences of 74,000 and 54,000, respectively. That is miniscule even for pay cable standards. And the writing has been on the wall: some of the actors on Party Down have already taken other jobs, like Adam Scott, who recently joined NBC’s Parks & Recreation. Starz’s slate has evolved following the breakout success of period drama Spartacus. The pay cable network has focused on dramas with big, recognizable title like the upcoming series Camelot, Torchwood and the Spartacus prqeuel as well as limited series The Pillars of the Earth. Additionally, Starz is developing an U.S. version of the hit Australian mob drama Underbelly.

UPDATE 12PM: Stephan Shelanski, executive vp programming for Starz Entertainment, issued a statement confirming the cancellations. ”After careful consideration, we’ve Read More »

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