It has already been a great day for the legions of (predominantly female) fans of Diana Gabaldon‘s wildly popular Outlander time-travel romantic novels as Starz released a new image from its series adaptation of the first book depicting hero Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) shirtless. Here is more good news for them: Sony TV-produced Outlander, currently in production on its 16-episode freshman season, will do at least one more. “I would be shocked if we didn’t do the second book,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht told me after the Scotland-set show’s session at TCA that featured writer and showrunner Ron Moore in a kilt. It is not only the enormous and enormously passionate fan base of the books, though that is not lost on Starz brass. Albrecht said he is very high on the early footage he has seen and didn’t spare praise for Battlestar Galactica developer/executive producer Moore’s skills as a top-notch writer and producer.
Related: TCA: “They Want To Lick Him”, ‘Outlander’ Author Says Of Fans And Her Hero
Even without the big vote of confidence from Albrecht, Outlander has the odds in its favor as all original dramas ordered by Albrecht have gone to second season with one exception, Camelot. I asked Albrecht about Starz’s “two-season curse” as no series since Spartacus has been able to go to a third season.
Related: TCA: Starz’s Chris Albrecht On 2014 Plans, ‘White Queen’ Sequel, ‘Magic City’s Demise
“You want a show that really makes a difference,” he said. The exec believes that good serialized dramas need time to reach their potential, which explains his willingness to hand freshman series a second season, but if he feels a show won’t go to the next level, he doesn’t have much trepidation about pulling the plug. (Albrecht did, however, regret the Kelsey Grammer drama Boss not getting a satisfying closure at the end of its two-season run the way Magic City did.) “TV shows are assets, not shrines,” he said. “You put them on; if they do the job, you keep them, if they don’t, you don’t.” Read More »
Obsessive fans of the wildly popular time travel romance Outlander may notice/object to Starz‘s adaptation’s different opening in the thick of World War II, but author Diana Gabaldon approved of the change, she told TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014.
Exec producer Ron Moore won her over with his argument that the show should open with heroine Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) serving as a nurse in a field hospital. “It shows her being the competent and resilient person that she is.” Gabaldon said.
The Outlander series spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale. It follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743 where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. She is forced to marry Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) a young Scottish warrior, and a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men.
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Starz‘s new swashbuckling pirate adventure series/Treasure Island prequel from Michael Bay goes 24 full minutes without nudity, which is a record for the pay cable network, a TV critic announced during the Black Sails Q&A session at TCA where Starz also released a new trailer for the new series. (watch below) The critic then asked Starz if being the “boobs and blood” network is something it embraces. To their credit, everyone from Starz who was in the room resisted the urge to hit the critic over the head with a blunt instrument. Instead, they explained that it’s “part of the possibility of pay TV” that Starz can tell stories without ad breaks, and without broadcast or even basic cable TV content restrictions. And, of course, Not Gratuitous.
Related: TCA: Starz’s Chris Albrecht On 2014 Plans, ‘White Queen’ Sequel, ‘Magic City’s Demise
Show creator/exec producer Jonathan Steinberg told the TV critics he’d never felt pressure to make this show sexier, or more violent. The show is violent, and the violence is sudden “the way violence feels in real life,” he explained. And, in re sex, he noted the pirates “almost certainly had sex in a world where none of them had job and they can kind of do what they will. I don’t think it ever gets gratuitous.”
Related: TCA: “They Want To Lick Him” ‘Starz’s Outlander’ Author Says Of Fans And Her Hero
Star Toby Stephens, Maggie Smith’s son, who has done his share of drawing-room period dramas, was asked if he watched his mom on Downton Abbey and if he prefers drawing room dramas or Black Sails. “I would any day of the week prefer to do the show I’m doing now,” he said. “I appreciate Downton for what it is. I have to say I don’t regularly tune in. It’s not the kind of show that I enjoy. I appreciate what my mom does in it, and she’s great in it. It’s not what I enjoy watching. This kind of thing is like going on an exotic vacation,” he said of Black Sails. In the UK, he said, “we do a lot of that the kind of stuff like Downton, and a lot of detective stuff. For me, that’s kind of like ‘Seen that, done it’. I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life.”
Related: Starz Pulls Out Of Sky Atlantic Series ‘Fortitude’, To Fast Track Internal Projects
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Back in April, Starz committed to Sky Atlantic’s upcoming drama series Fortitude to air on the U.S. pay cable network in Q4 next year. That is no longer the plan. “Due to changes in the Sky Atlantic production of Fortitude, Starz … Read More »
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 »
HBO and Starz garnered three nominations each as the American Society of Cinematographers announced its TV nominees for the ASC Awards today. Winners will be announced at the 28th ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement … 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 … Read More »
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. Read More »
The premium networks company had a lot to crow about in the period including the success of its series The White Queen. But it’s still growing, and that resulted in investments that prevented much of the additional cash coming in … Read More »
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.
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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 … Read More »
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.” Read More »
Melissa Harper and Richter Hartig have been promoted from VP level to Senior Vice Presidents in Original Programming Production at Starz. Their appointments were announced … Read More »
Starz has dropped a new trailer for the Michael Bay-produced pirate adventure Black Sails. The high-seas drama produced a lot of buzz at Comic-Con, solidifying a decision by network brass to give it a second season renewal ahead of its January 2014 premiere. The story takes place … Read More »