January 14, 2014
Starz at TCA - Pirates, Kilts & Demons
By Michael Grebb
Starz released a new trailer for its drama “Black Sails,” executive produced by Michael Bay, premiering Jan 25
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht continues to set a high bar for the premium net, which hasn’t shied away from expensive and epic programming such as Michael Bay’s upcoming pirate drama “Black Sails” (Jan 27 premiere) and “Outlander” (summer premiere) a historical epic. “We’re trying to distinguish ourselves,” he said. “We
believe we should be in every home that HBO and Showtime are in. The Starz brand is one that’s evolving, and that’s part of the fun.” He said he wants to air 65-75 hrs of original programming in ’15—putting the net on par with other premiums. In addition, he said Starz may produce a sequel to “The White Queen,” but only “if the stars align.”
Albrecht also made clear that his decision to cancel “Magic City” last year was “not close” because the “extremely expensive” series hadn’t gained enough momentum. “We’re proud of Magic City and glad we had it on the air, and would be glad to be in business with all of those people again,” he said. As for Black Sails, Starz is betting big on the pirate genre, filming in Cape Town, South Africa, with customized beaches and massive water tanks to depict sea battles. “I honestly don’t know if we could have made it anywhere else,” said showrunner Jonathan Steinberg.
The historical theme continues with Starz’s “Outlander” based on a popular novel involving time travel between the 1940s and Scotland in the 1700s. Yes, it’s kind of bizarre, but producer Ronald D. Moore (the person behind SyFy’s highly successful “Battlestar Galactica” reboot) showed up with the cast in traditional Scottish dress and said he’ll respect the book’s devoted following while doing his own thing. “You still have to make the show for yourself and make the best that you can,” he said. “It’s not a democracy. You can’t just like throw it out there and do what the fans want because they all want different things and, hopefully, you’re giving them something that they can fall in love with.”
Also coming back for S2 is “DaVinci’s Demons” (Mar 22 premiere), which will see Leonardo and company venturing beyond the walls of Florence in their search for hidden knowledge. S2 will also do a bit of virtual time traveling, at least with the narrative. “The structure of the second season is not really linear,” noted showrunner David Goyer.