EXCLUSIVE: Starz is fast-tracking its ballet drama project, now titled Flesh 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 »
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 …
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.
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 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 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 …
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.”
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 by The 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.