At the top of Starz‘s TCA session, CEO Chris Albrecht did his semi-annual State Of The Network overview, laying out his programming plans for the next year. Starz will continue to push into original programming, which accounts for almost half of Starz’s top telecasts despite representing only 5% of the pay cable’s network schedule and has fueled Starz’s streak of eight consecutive quarters of subscriber growth. First off this year is the January 25 premiere of pirate drama Black Sails, which already has been renewed for a second season — a move Albrecht called “a good and economically responsible” decision following the enthusiastic response at Comic-Con. It will be followed by the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons, which Albrecht announced will premiere on March 22; the contemporary crime underworld drama Power in late spring; and Ron Moore’s adaptation of the blockbuster Outlander books in Q3. Starz had originally slotted Sky Atlantic’s upcoming drama series Fortitude for the fourth quarter. Last month, Starz pulled out of the project because of its changed filming schedule. The network put several internal projects on fast track — including ballet drama Flesh And Bone, which already has been casting and has hired a choreographer; Survivor’s Remorse, exec produced by LeBron James; and WonderWorld, set in Ronald Reagan’s America — and Albrecht today said he plans to make a decision on which one would fill the Q3 series slot within the next couple of weeks.
Albrecht gave an update on Starz’s plans for The White Princess, a sequel to The White Queen limited series, which was a co-production between Starz and the BBC and did very well for Starz and not so well for the BBC, which opted not to continue with the property. “We’re working with (The White Queen screenwriter) Emma Frost on the stories,” Albrecht said. “We will not have BBC as part of it. We are interested, if the stars align, in a sequal to The White Queen.” Like the original series, it would be based on the book by Philippa Gregory.
Besides Starz’s breakout drama Spartacus, none of the network’s original series has gone beyond two seasons. The latest casualty was period Miami drama Magic City. Albrecht said the cancellation call was not a close one. “It was a fine show but it was extremely expensive. It had decent audience but distributors weren’t interested in co-marketing it with us, and we felt Season 2 had a pretty reasonable and satisfying landing spot.”