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.
The original feature, directed by Soderbergh and written by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 (watch the trailer below). “We are all such fans of the movie that the idea of exploring this world through many different characters, voices and points of view was especially intriguing,” Albrecht said. “Steven and Philip’s approach to the format is unique and not something seen on the entertainment landscape today.”
Starz recently renewed new drama series Power for a second season, has basketball comedy series Survivor’s Remorse and ballet drama Flesh And Bone coming and and drama project Blackbirds on fast track for a series order.
Oscar winner Soderbergh, repped by Anonymous Content and Michael Sugar, won an Emmy last year for directing the HBO movie Behind The Candelabra. Fleishman, repped by Alan Abrams, produced Soderbergh’s concert film about the group Yes in 1985.