EXCLUSIVE: Bill Myers, president and chief operating officer of Starz Entertainment and Starz Media, suddenly resigned today after a decade at the premium cable company. He was responsible for all day-to-day operations including affiliate sales, marketing, public relations, worldwide television distribution, engineering, and IT for Starz Entertainment and Starz Media, the two divisions of Starz, LLC. A holdover from the previous regime, for the past 2 years he reported to Starz, LLC President and CEO Chris Albrecht, who took over the company in 2010. “Bill has contributed greatly in driving Starz’s growth and success,” Albrecht said. “We are enormously grateful for his 10 years of service and wish him well in his future endeavors.” Myers joined Starz Entertainment in May 2002 and served as EVP and CFO of Starz Entertainment and was promoted to president and COO of the company in August 2006. He assumed the additional title at Starz Media in July 2008.
Starz Entertainment’s Encore is taking aim at original programming, unveiling today plans to air the novel adaptation Moby Dick that stars William Hurt, Ethan Hawke and Gillian Anderson as well as a Tom Hardy-starring mini The Take based on Martina Cole’s best-selling crime novel. Moby Dick is a three-hour mini that will air over two nights Aug. 1 and Aug. 2. Hurt will play Captain Ahab, Hawke is his first mate Starbuck and Anderson is Ahab’s wife; Donald Sutherland and Raoul Trujillo also star. RHI, Tele Munchen and Gate Filmproduktion produced. The four-part thriller The Take, from ITV Studios Global Entertainment, also stars Brian Cox, Kierston Wareing, Charlotte Riley and Shaun Evans. It will air sometime in the fall alongside another original effort, the documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, which was previously announced.
Michael Thornton, most recently EVP Business & Legal Affairs at Disney/ABC Domestic Television, has been appointed EVP Business and Legal Affairs – Programming, Digital and Worldwide Distribution at Starz Entertainment. Thornton will be responsible for developing the strategic direction of business/legal affairs related to the acquisition of programming content for the Starz Entertainment linear channels, on-demand, and online services. He also will oversee business/legal affairs for distribution of the Starz companies’ content with online/broadband distributors, transactional VOD/EST, and international syndication of Starz Original programming and Starz Media content. Meanwhile, Starz SVP Business Affairs – Programming Richard Turner said he is leaving the company after 12 years.
Starz Entertainment announced today that its Encore premium network will add Encore Espanol to its lineup, making it the eighth channel in the family. There also will be name changes for existing channels (Encore WAM becomes Encore Family, and Encore Mystery becomes Encore Suspense), Encore Action and Encore Drama will launch in HD, and Movieplex will become a stand-alone commercial-free channel instead of simulcasting existing Encore feeds. All the changes will take effect Aug. 1. ”We have listened to our affiliates and crafted these changes to meet new opportunities in the marketplace,” said Ed Huguez, EVP sales and affiliate marketing at Starz. “These enhancements will fortify the channels and — especially for ENCORE ESPANOL — position our affiliates to capitalize on new opportunities which leverage our quality premium movie programming and grow their businesses.”
Starz Entertainment has hired longtime HBO executive Russell Schwartz to be its SVP Business & Legal Affairs. He will be based in Los Angeles, where he will help spearhead the company’s growing Starz Originals and TV production business, which has been ramping up under CEO Chris Albrecht, a former colleague at HBO. “Russell brings to Starz a wealth of knowledge, experience, and business affairs acumen that will serve the company well as we expand our footprint into original programming,” said Steve Beabout, Starz Entertainment’s EVP, General Counsel and Secretary, who announced the hire. “Specifically, Russell has extensive experience in the premium television business from his time at HBO and has a track record of success throughout his career practicing law and in the entertainment industry.”