EXCLUSIVE: In the first big talent power play since Lionsgate’s acquisition of Starz last year, Power creator/executive producer Courtney Kemp has signed a new overall deal with the studio and the premium cabler.
Under the exclusive and unique multi-year agreement, Kemp will develop series for Starz and work on projects for Lionsgate that could be sold to a variety of outlets. She also will continue as the showrunner and EP on the hit NYC drama, I’ve learned. As was announced last week, Power is back for its fourth season on June 25.
“This new deal presents a wonderful opportunity to extend my creative efforts on Power while developing new shows for Lionsgate,” Kemp said today. “I am grateful to Jon, Kevin and Chris for this warm welcome to the Lionsgate family, and I’m looking forward to a continued relationship with Chris, Carmi and the entire team at Starz,” she added, referencing Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate TV Group boss Kevin Beggs and Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht.
“Courtney A. Kemp is the complete showrunner package, and we’re thrilled to continue collaborating with such a creative talent and outstanding producer,” Albrecht said today. “We are proud to see Courtney receive the recognition she deserves in our industry and are pleased the combined ‘power’ of Starz and Lionsgate offers even greater opportunities for her – and us – in the creative community.”
Added Beggs: “We are longtime fans of Courtney’s thanks to her record-breaking series Power and delighted to be working with her at the studio going forward. Her new deal shows the ability of our combined company to attract and nurture the top talent in the business.”
As Beggs says, in many ways the new deal for Kemp and her End of Episode production company reflects exactly the programming opportunity and reach Lionsgate and Starz’s $4.4 billion cash-and-stock deal enables. It also shows the heft that The Good Wife alum Kemp has after several seasons of delivering Starz’s most-watched original series year in and year out. Power was renewed for a fourth and fifth season in late July — the first time Starz had doubled up on such a pickup.
Power, which debuted on June 7, 2014, stars Omari Hardwick, Lela Loren, Joseph Sikora, Naturi Naughton and Curtis Jackson and has broken ratings records for Starz season after season. Moved to the higher-profile Sunday slot after two years on Saturdays, the Season 3 premiere of Power snared 2.26 million viewers on July 17, 2016 — the premium cabler’s best original series debut numbers yet and the most-watched episode of any Starz original.
Year-to-year, the Season 3 premiere was up more than 58% from the Season 2 and 389% from Season 1 premieres, respectively, in sets of eyeballs. When multiplatform and delayed viewing is factored in, Power has been averaging an audience of around 8 million. That makes it the second-most-watched series on premium cable after HBO’s Emmy winning Game of Thrones.
Besides Kemp, who started as a journalist and made her first foray into TV with The Bernie Mac Show, Power is EP’d by Jackson, Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and Gary Lennon.
Kemp is repped by CAA and attorney Michael Gendler at Beverly Hills’ Gendler & Kelly. The new deal was negotiated for Lionsgate by TV Group president Sandra Stern and for Starz by Russell Schwartz, SVP Business & Legal Affairs.