Starz CEO Chris Albrecht gave a virtual third-season pickup to Black Sails, his swashbuckling pirate adventure series/Treasure Island prequel from Michael Bay, when he addressed the press this afternoon at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour. “I looked at the final episode [of Season 2] the other day, and when I finished it … I thought to myself, ‘I need to find out what happens next.’” But he quickly added, “That’s certainly not an official announcement,” noting the press has taken jabs at his network for picking up shows early.
Related: TCA: Starz’s Basketball Comedy ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ Has Crossover Appeal, Say Producers & Cast
Participating recently in a panel with FX Networks CEO John Landgraf and Showtime chief David Nevins, Albrecht said he listened to the two men discuss how a series does not find its audience until its third season in this market. “I’m actually doing this wrong,” Albrecht said he concluded. “If we like the first season should we pick up the next two. … I’m actually beginning to think that, in this world of increased competition, I should worry less about what other people think and more about our belief in … people doing the show. Like I said, when I looked at the end of the second season, I wanted to know what happens next. So I’m optimistic.”
Asked about the state of his network, Albrecht said: “I’m at a little bit of a loss to understand why really good shows we put on haven’t created more buzz with you. … We’ve been thinking about, talking marketing-wise, spending more money on a series’ second season than less money — which is the way networks historically think. Maybe we need to lean into these things we believe in, in a big way.” Read More »
The TCA panel for Starz‘s new series Survivor’s Remorse — about basketball phenom Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), who must balance fame and fortune with his former family life — found themselves tiptoeing around a statement made earlier by Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in his opening remarks: “White people don’t watch a lot of shows that don’t have a lot of white faces.”
Albrecht was talking about Power, Starz’s drama series about a nightclub owner/drug dealer that features a predominantly black cast. Albrecht boasted that the series draws “the largest concentration for any premiere show since The Wire — about 50% of the audience”, the executive said. But Albrecht added that Power still needs to be given time to develop crossover appeal.
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Starz is making the first episode of its new series Outlander available in its entirety for free to viewers, beginning August 2, in advance of its worldwide premiere August 9 at 9 PM. The episode will be available on multiple TV and online platforms nationwide. The network said in advance of its TCA session today that first season of the series will be split in two, with the first eight episodes running over eight consecutive Saturdays through September 27; the second half of the 16-episode order is scheduled to continue in early 2015. Outlander is adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s international best-selling books and executive produced by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica).
Starz estimates about 82 million multichannel video households will have access to the premiere episode via additional linear, on-demand and/or online sampling opportunities on select cable, satellite and telco affiliates in the U.S. as well as online through select websites including Starz.com/Outlander, the Starz Outlander Twitter page, the Starz YouTube page, Starz Outlander Facebook Page and the free STARZ PLAY app for all U.S.-based users. Read More »
Starz has added its summer series Outlander to Comic-Con‘s Friday, July 25 schedule with a panel at 2:15 PM in room 6A. Executive producer Ronald D. Moore, cast members Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Graham McTavish and Lotte Verbeek as well as Outlander author Diana Gabaldon will be on hand to discuss the series with fans.
Outlander follows the epic story of Claire Randall (Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945, who is time-warped back to 1743 where her life is suddenly threatened. She is forced into marriage with a romantic young Scottish warrior, Jamie Fraser (Heughan), and her heart is torn between two men in two different lives.
Outlander premieres Saturday, August 9 at 9 PM. Series is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.
Starz will develop an adaptation of FremantleMedia North America’s Neil Gaiman urban fantasy novel American Gods. Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller and The River and Heroes executive producer Michael Green will write the pilot and showrun the series. The 2001 novel, which has been translated into more than 30 languages, and centers on a looming war between the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots and the upstart pantheon of gods who stand for society’s fixation with money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The story’s main character, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman and older god. Both set on a cross-country mission to gather forces in preparation to battle the new deities. Read More »
Ken Segna joined Starz four years ago as an executive assistant. Now he has been promoted to VP Original Programming, based in the company’s Beverly Hills office. In his new role, Segna will take the lead on new development and current productions, including the upcoming original series Power, executive produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. He also will oversee production of the recently greenlighted anthology series The Girlfriend Experience, produced by Transactional Pictures and executive produced by Steven Soderbergh, Philip Fleishman, Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz. Segna also serves as the production lead on original series Survivor’s Remorse, executive produced by LeBron James.
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David Weil has joined Starz as EVP and General Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs. He takes over from Steve Beabout, who is retiring after 18 years as General Counsel. Weil will be based in the Beverly Hills headquarters where he will be responsible for developing the strategic direction of business and legal affairs for the company, including the Starz linear channels, affiliate negotiations, public company compliance management and the worldwide distribution and home entertainment businesses. He will report to Chris Albrecht, CEO.
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Starz has greenlighted The Girlfriend Experience, a 13-part anthology series inspired by Steven Soderbergh‘s 2009 Magnolia Pictures film. Soderbergh and Philip Fleishman executive produce the half-hour series, from Transactional Pictures, which explores the relationships of the most exclusive courtesans who provide their clients with far more than just sex. These purveyors – or GFEs (Girlfriend Experience) – share intimacies more common to romantic partners or husbands and wives, becoming quasi-lovers and confidants who are richly paid for their time. “Many of these women are extremely accomplished,” said Fleishman. “They range from musicians in major orchestras to PhD candidates in the sciences and often feel empowered by the control and economic freedom their work as GFE’s affords them. The question is whether they define a new genus of contemporary relationship, or have relationships always been transactionally based in one form or another?”
Soderbergh and Fleishman executive producer along with independent filmmakers Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, who will also write and direct on the series. “We’re in an exciting period of auteur-driven television right now,” Soderbergh said. “When Philip floated the idea of a Girlfriend Experience-inspired television show, I thought: ‘let’s make it a different woman in a different city, let’s pair two independent writer-directors, one male and one female, and let them do the whole thing.” Soderbergh said he’d known Lodge for 20 years and became a fan of Amy’s when he saw her first feature, Sun Don’t Shine, last summer. The series reunites Soderbergh with Starz CEO Chris Albrecht 11 years after the two worked together on the improv Washington DC comedy K Street. Read More »
Starz has signed a deal with another executive producer of its new drama series Power, which was just renewed for a second season. Under the overall pact, David Knoller also is joining Starz’s drama Blackbirds, from John Shiban, and will develop other projects for the pay cable network. The hire gives extra boost to Blackbirds, already on a fast track for an order after recently setting up a writers room. Adapted by Shiban from the novels by Chuck Wendig, Blackbirds centers on Miriam Black, a hitchhiker who struggles with a unique ability to see how and when you die when she touches you. Shiban and Knoller executive produce the project, which is being developed under his Knollwood Prods. banner, with Ian Williams serving as the company’s director of development. “David is one of those rare people who is able to make everything he’s involved in better,” said Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz.
Knoller will return to New York in the fall to executive produce and direct episodes of Power, created by Courtney Kemp Agboh. Executive producing the second season along with Knoller and Kemp Agboh, are Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mark Canton, whom Starz signed into a first-look deal last year, and Randall Emmett. The deal solidifies Knoller’s reunion with Starz’s top executive Chris Albrecht and Zlotnik, with whom he previously worked at HBO as producer and director on Big Love and Carnivale. He is repped by … Read More »
Another early second-season renewal for a Starz drama — the pay cable network has picked up Power following its debut last Friday. The series, created and executive produced by Courtney Kemp Agboh and executive producers Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mark Canton, David Knoller and Randall Emmett, will begin production on its 10-episode second season in September in and around New York and at its home base at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.
The eight-episode first season is set in two different worlds, the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade, and follows James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) as he attempts to leave his illegitimate lifestyle behind. “Power is a project extremely close to my heart and working with Chris Albrecht, Carmi Zlotnik and the Starz team has been the perfect fit for this,” Jackson said. “Viewers may be loving the start of Season 1 now, but Season 2 will blow them away.” Power debuted on Friday with 462,000 Live+same day at 9 PM, 1.27 million for the three Saturday night airings and 2.022 million for the nine weekend runs on Saturday and Sunday. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: How many pirate TV shows do you know of in the history of the medium? For Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, the lives of buccaneers repped a whole new world with Black Sails. ”I have been making TV shows for decades and I don’t think I ever heard a pirate pitch. I heard four at the same time. I knew that Michael Bay was working on one and then it walked in (the door),” exclaimed Albrecht at Saturday’s Produced By Conference. Looking to ride a wave, NBC decided to dip their toes in the genre recently with Friday’s Crossbones starring John Malkovich. Still, no threat to Starz. ”We may not have John Malkovich, but we’re spending more money, I’ve seen the scripts, I know what it takes (for this genre), and if you want to watch a TV show, ours is going to be better,” added Albrecht. There’s no CGI at work here as seen in this behind-the-scenes video where Black Sails co-creator/executive producer Jonathan Steinberg and the show’s costume and production design team discuss their process, of particular note: It took four to five months to build that pirate ship.
Related: Produced By Conference — Top Cable Bosses Undeterred By Netflix
Starz is rolling out a nationwide multiplatform campaign to preview its new drama Power, starting today on Twitter, ahead of its June 7 premiere. The 5-minute opening scene of Power‘s first episode can be viewed on Twitter, using the service’s new in-line video feature. Beginning tomorrow, Power iPadSelect multichannel video distributors will offer linear, on-demand and online sampling opportunities of Episode 1. It will also be available tomorrow on Starz’s website, as well as Starz’s Power Twitter page, MySpace, Facebook, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Sony Entertainment Network and CinemaNow. Power tells the story of James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), a wealthy New York City nightclub owner who wants to build an empire, but there’s just one problem: Ghost is living a double life as the kingpin of the most lucrative drug network in New York. The series is produced in association with CBS Television Studios.
EXCLUSIVE: Syfy has acquired U.S. basic cable rights to all 39 episodes of Starz‘s Spartacus. That includes the three seasons of the swords-and-sandals drama as well as the six-part prequel Gods Of The Arena. Spartacus will make its Syfy debut June 26 and will air at 10 PM, following original series Defiance and Dominion.
The Spartacus deal comes 16 years after then-5-year-old Sci Fi Channel made its biggest acquisition pact to date, spending $150 million for the exclusive basic cable rights to three other Showtime series, Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Stargate and Poltergeist went on to become original series on Sci Fi, which ordered additional seasons — five for Stargate and one for Poltergeist. Stargate became a signature series for Sci Fi, spawning a franchise. Read More »
The Awardsline Emmy Screening Series kicked off last night with the first episode of the Starz-BBC miniseries The White Queen, “In Love With The King.” The series tells the story of three women – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anna Neville– vying for the hand of King Edward IV in 1464 against the backdrop of the War of the Roses. Executive produced by Colin Callender and adapted from Philippa Gregory’s books, White Queen has been such a success for Starz that a sequel, The White Princess, is already in the works. White Queen has generated the largest female audience for any Starz series as well as three Golden Globe noms for best miniseries, lead actress Rebecca Ferguson (Elizabeth) and supporting actress for Janet McTeer.
In a conversation with Deadline’s Dominic Patten following the screening at the Landmark Theatre, Callender commented on the resonance of the show. “The reason why Starz wanted to do it was because it shows history from the point of view of women,” he said. “I think the female audience wants to see a show that reflects their lives with complexity and embraces the complications in their lives.”
Related: Nellie Andreeva’s Q&A With ‘White Queen’s Colin Callender
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Starz‘s new drama series Outlander, adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling books and executive produced by Ron Moore, will premiere Saturday, August 9 at 9 PM. The 16-episode first season is currently shooting on location in Scotland. Starz also released the official key art image for the show with the tagline, “What if your future was the past?” Outlander, from Sony TV, centers on Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a married British combat nurse from 1945 who mysteriously falls back in time to 1743 Scotland, where she is torn between her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Scottish warrior who comes to her rescue. A full-length trailer was released last week.
EXCLUSIVE: Seven episodes into Da Vinci’s Demons‘ 10-episode second season run, Starz has renewed the historical fantasy series created by David S. Goyer for a third season. It will be shepherded by John Shiban who is joining as executive producer/showrunner. Goyer, who is juggling multiple film and TV projects, will remain an executive producer. “I’m very proud of this modern take on the endlessly fascinating Leonardo da Vinci — everyone from the writers, directors, cast and all the crew have been invaluable and will continue to be for what we have ahead,” Goyer said. “I’ve been a fan of John’s work for some time and I’m excited to add his voice to the mix.”
Additionally, Shiban has a drama series in the works at Starz called Blackbirds, based on the novels by Chuck Wendig. The project has set up a writers room, often a pre-cursor to a series pickup at the pay cable network. Read More »
Starz today unveiled a full-size trailer for Outlander, its upcoming series adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s enormously popular books. Ron Moore executive produces the time-jumping romance starring Sam Heughan as 18th century Scotsman Jamie Fraser and Caitriona Balfe as 20th century nurse Claire Randall, whose lives intersect. Starz also released new images from the series, including one of the two protagonists. Outlander premieres this summer.
Blunt Talk, a live-action comedy series from Seth MacFarlane and Bored To Death creator Jonathan Ames starring Patrick Stewart (Star Trek, X-Men), has landed at Starz with a 20-episode, straight-to-series, two-season order for a 2015 premiere. The project hails from Media Rights Capital, which yielded a similar straight-to-series, two-season pickup from Netflix for its drama House Of Cards. The comedy project was recently taken out, garnering interest from multiple networks. There was some behind the scenes back-and-forth on who would produce the series as MacFarlane is under a very rich overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV. (He is currently in negotiations for a new pact.) The TV studio, which is behind all other MacFarlane comedy series, is currently not involved in this one but I hear the issue has not been completely resolved yet. MacFarlane has very strong ties to MRC, which was behind his YouTube original series Cavalcade Of Cartoon Comedy as well as features Ted and A Million Ways To Die In The West.
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