Starz CEO Chris Albrecht Talks Picking Up AMERICAN GODS, Trying to Do a FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Series, Splitting OUTLANDER Season 1 in Half, and More

     July 13, 2014


While at the Starz portion of the TCA Press Tour, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht took some time to talk about new and returning programming.  During the interview, he spoke about the new showrunner for Season 3 of Da Vinci’s Demons, that he’s optimistic about a third season of Black Sails, what viewers can expect from the BBC co-production The Missing, airing in the fall, how the first season of Outlander will be split into two parts, with the first half premiering on August 9th and the second half in early 2015, that if audiences get behind the show, they’ll continue the journey, why he decided to go ahead with American Gods as a series, after HBO decided not to move forward, and how he offered Universal three years, if they’d do Fifty Shades of Grey as a TV series, but they declined. Check out what he had to say after the jump.

black-sails-zach-mcgowanQuestion:  How are things looking with Season 3 of Da Vinci’s Demons and Season 2 of Black Sails?

ALBRECHT:  We are now shooting the third season of Da Vinci’s Demons, and have just completed the second season of Black Sails.  The new showrunner for Da Vinci’s Demons, John Shiban, will team with David Goyer and add a new and increasingly unique voice to what we think is a very unique show. 

Do you know if Black Sails will get third season, or are you going to see how Season 2 does?

ALBRECHT:  I looked at the final episode [of Season 2] the other day, and it’s a really exciting last episode.  When I saw it, I thought to myself, “I need to find out what happens next.”  But, that’s certainly not an official announcement.  We get a lot of jabs taken at us for picking up shows early, but I’m optimistic. 

What can you say about the BBC co-production you have, with The Missing?

ALBRECHT:  Also coming this fall, we will air the limited series The Missing, which we are co-producing with the BBC.  It stars James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor.  The show is about how, when a child goes missing, the lives of everyone who come in contact with the incident is forever changed.  I think you’ll find it extremely worthy of viewing.

outlander-tv-show-imageWhat are your plans for airing the first season of Outlander?

ALBRECHT:  With Outlander, we will be premiering the first eight episodes of the series on August 9th, and the second eight episodes of the initial 16, which cover the first novel of the series, will be premiering in early 2015.  It’s a terrific show.  It is unique.  It will certainly please the fans, and we think lots of other people, as well.  

Are you looking way ahead with Outlander?

ALBRECHT:  I keep reading the books.  I honestly think Outlander is so good.  I saw Episode 8 this morning.  You don’t get a chance to work with material like that.  Diana Gabaldon has given us years of great drama.  So, if the audiences and our subscribers are as interested in it as we think they will be, and the fans really get behind it and tell their friends about it, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t continue the same journey that Claire and Jamie and Brianna and Roger and everybody have had.

Is it your sense that people who write books are more inclined now to bring their projects to television rather than the big screen, especially because of the ability to follow a story over a number of years?

ALBRECHT:  Yeah.  I think television is a unique form, in terms of storytelling.  Having source material for these really dense, complicated, serialized dramas is a great way of world-building.  It’s a great way of setting up the story.  It’s a great way of setting up the rules of the world.  We just had an announcement about being in business with Bryan Fuller, Michael Green and Neil Gaiman on American Gods.  If you read the book, you’d go, “Oh, my god, this could only be a series. 

american-gods-book-cover-imageI’m the guy that called up Universal and said, “I’ll give you three years of on-the-air series.  Let’s just do Fifty Shades of Grey as a series because you don’t have to worry about a box office.  You don’t have to worry about a rating.  You can tell the story the right way.  It will be a giant success, all over the world.”  But movie people think things are movies, and authors think things should be movies because, up until recently, movies have been the jewel in the crown.  But, that seems to be changing. 

So, you pitched Universal the idea of doing Fifty Shades of Grey as a TV series?


Any more details on that?

ALBRECHT:  What more can I tell you, other than I know the people that run that place over there, and they were very nice to listen to me.

HBO had American Gods in development for a really long time and couldn’t ultimately make it work.  What did you see in the material, and what have Bryan Fuller and Michael Green talked to you about, with what they want to do with it, that made you want to do it?

ALBRECHT:  I didn’t see the HBO script.  It was a different team, but obviously, it was Neil’s material.  These are two skilled guys.  They are passionate about the material.  They had a take, which excited us.  If you are in 22 million homes and you don’t have unlimited resources to market stuff, these pre-sold franchises have fan bases.  I don’t know if you follow the Outlander fan sites, but they are so revved up about the series.  And the amount of press that we got off of the announcement of American Gods is very good news.  When you’ve got a team like that and a property like that, you go, “Let’s give it a shot.”

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