From the future of American Gods, to the carriage deal with Altice and new programming coming down the line in 2018, Starz President Chris Albrecht touched on many different topics at Winter Press Tour in Pasadena on Friday.
When asked about the carriage dispute with Altice, Albrecht blasted the company for dropping Starz channels on January 1 and directing U.S. subscribers to Starz’s standalone app.
He told reporters that Altice should be rebating customers who paid Starz subscription fees, and added that negotiations are ongoing and he “expects that we will get a deal.”
“This thing is far from over,” Albrecht said.
The future of American Gods was also prominent on reporters’ minds, and Albrecht addressed the departure of executive producers and showrunners Michael Green and Bryan Fuller while admitting there’s been some trouble getting the second season underway in what has been, “an incredibly difficult adaptation of a fantastic novel.”
“I think this about it—is there a vision that can be executed on a regular basis?” Albrecht said about Green and Fuller’s role in the production, adding it’s not ideal to have 18 or 24 months between seasons.
Producer FremantleMedia is looking for a more predictable schedule and in terms of making that happen, author Neil Gaiman, on whose book the series is based, will be moving into more of a showrunner role.
Meanwhile, there’s still “a very good relationship” with Green and Fuller, who “were not fired nor did they quit,” and will likely continue “to be involved as much as they can be.” Starz is “very committed” to the show and “hoping for many more” episodes, Albrecht said.
New Upcoming Series
In terms of what to expect down the line, Starz is developing, along with Lionsgate, The Continental, an adaptation of the John Wick film franchise.
The show will be set in the same world as the hit movies.
“This is an opportunity to really engage with the phenomenal fan base that has risen up around the John Wick franchise,” Albrecht said.
While the show is not designed to have Keanu Reeves in the leading role, he does serve as a executive producer and viewers can expect to see him somewhere in the series.
Starz also prides itself on programming for diverse viewers, and Albrecht gave a nod to Power, adding that 43 percent African American households subscribe to the service.
In addition, he highlighted Outlander as the number-two premium cable show for women behind Game of Thrones.
When asked about plans for a season five, or even a season six, Albrecht responded: “I wouldn’t worry too much about that.”
The company’s attention to underserved audiences is heavily touted in its four new series coming out in 2018.
Starz also revealed premiere dates for three new originals: Counterpart on January 21 at 8 p.m., Howards End on April 8, and Vida and Sweetbitter on May 6.
Starz explores the concept of parallel universes in the upcoming spy thriller.
The 10-episode series stars J.K. Simmons in a dual role as Howard Silk, a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency who discovers his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension. He is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger, and double crossing.
“My favorite actor to work with,” Simmons joked about playing opposite himself.
Justin Marks, creator, writer, and executive producer, said the show is set in a complex world and he loves working with other writers of of “diverse gender and nationalities” who are able to keep the him and the story in check, and “add parts of who they are.”
Vida is a half-hour drama series focusing on two Mexican-American sisters, Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera), from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and surprising truth about their mother’s identity.
Executive Producer and showrunner Tanya Saracho (How to Get Away With Murder, Looking, Girls) says the series delivers that missing “female, brown queer perspective” and straddles the line between drama and comedy.
Saracho thanked Starz for letting her do the show the “right way” saying there’s “a cultural shorthand that happens” when Latinex can get together to tell their own stories.
“It was so beautiful to land on a set and a network that felt like home,” said Prada.
Sweetbitter is adapted from the best–selling novel of the same name by series creator Stephanie Danler who serves as executive producer and writer on the series.
“I wanted to expand the world of the book and make something new,” Danler said. “I tried to come to it as open as possible.”
The story focuses on Tess (Ella Purnell), a 22-year-old who arrives in New York City ready to pursue a new life. When she finds herself interviewing for a position at one of the best restaurants in the city, she thinks she’s found a steady income and a safe place. But Tess is quickly intoxicated by the chaotic, adrenalized world behind-the-scenes, tasting expensive wine, exploring dive bars, and learning who she can trust.
The first season “bites off a small part of the book,” and takes place over Tess’ first two weeks of training.
“We have really slowed down so we can focus on this girl’s arrival to New York City,” Danler said.
Adapted from the E.M. Forster novel, Howards End is the story of Margaret (Hayley Atwell) and Helen Schlegel (Philippa Coulthard), two independent and unconventional sisters seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world.