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TCA Press Tour 2013 STARZ Panel Report

The latest word on "Black Sails," "DaVinci’s Demons," "Magic City," "Turf" and life after "Spartacus" from the Television Critics Association press tour.

Earlier today STARZ presented panels on the new series "DaVinci’s Demons" and the second season of "Magic City" for the Television Critics Assosciation. We’ll soon have interviews with the casts and creators of both shows, but first STARZ CEO Chris Albrecht gave the TCA some news about STARZ’s upcoming productions.

First, the entire model for STARZ corporate will change. “STARZ will become an independent company separated from Liberty Media,” Albrecht said. “[We’ll be] a publicly traded company. Yours truly will become CEO of a publicly traded company which is exciting and daunting. We will be in charge of our own balance sheet and be able to accelerate our ramp up into original programming, which we see as the main thrust of STARZ’s future growth, immediate and long term.”

Here’s where this impacts you, the viewer. As their own bosses, STARZ is planning even more new original series. The first of which is a miniseries. “We will be premiering a limited series ‘The White Queen’ based on novels by Philippa Gregory. It stars Max Irons in one of the lead roles. We’ll be showing that next TCA.”

One project we’ve had our eye on is the Michael Bay produced pirate series "Black Sails." Albrecht is on his way to production this weekend. “I am leaving tomorrow night to go to South Africa for the beginning of production on our show ‘Black Sails’ which we’re in partnership with Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes company. I can’t wait to go down there and see it. The shots I’ve seen of what we’re building on the production side are amazing.”

In addition to Bay, “Sails” has a high pedigree of behind the scenes talent. “The first and third episodes will be directed by Neil Marshall, which many of you know from his work on the ‘Blackwater’ episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’” We also know Marshall from the movies The Descent and Centurion, thank you very much.

Other new series include “‘Crime,’ with Bill Monaghan, ‘Turf,’ ‘Power’ with our partner 50 [Albrecht pronounces it “fiddy”] Cent. ‘Incursion,’ which is the new sci-fi project that we are deeply in development and creature work with which will be helmed by Steven DeKnight, showrunner on the ‘Spartacus’ franchise.”

Albrecht was also excited about the expansion of his STARZ Play streaming service. “The other big news for us, at least we can predict in 2013 will be the rapid acceleration of our STARZ and Encore Play authenticated platforms in terms of their distribution. We launched in late 2012. We’ve had terrific response. Many of our affiliates are lined up to sign up. It’s just [working on compatibility with] each of their systems.”

2013 will also see STARZ emphasize "Taking You Places" as their overal brand identity. “Whether it’s our originals or whether it’s with our terrific output deals with our theatrical partners, we think we take the STARZ subscribers to a premium world and to immersive places where they will want to return again and again" said Albrecht. "Whether that’s the luduses of ancient Rome or the streets of Renaissance Florence or the hotels of rat pack Miami, we think this brand Play will give us an opportunity to distinguish ourselves a little bit in the premium category and help us grow our businesses with our subscribers."