Pay network taps new exec VP of programming

Starz Entertainment has promoted Stephan Shelanski to exec VP of programming, expanding his role in the production of original programming for Starz as the pay TV net slowly continues to ramp up its efforts in that area.

Shelanski already has spearheaded Starz’s move into originals with the shortform comedy series “Head Case,” starring Alexandra Wentworth as a Hollywood psychiatrist whose clients include celebs, and with documentaries like “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride,” a feature-length look at the career of Hunter S. Thompson, and “Going to Pieces: The Rise of the Slasher Film.”

At least one full-fledged scripted series will make it to Starz’s schedule in 2008, Shelanski said. Since Starz, Encore and their multiplex nets are predominantly outlets for theatrical movies, he said that the series and other originals he produces will focus on showbiz in some form.

But Shelanski said Starz will move slowly into the scripted-series area, adding, “We’re not in competition with HBO and Showtime,” each of which commissions a number of original series each year.

Since joining Starz as an executive in 1994, Shelanski has negotiated its theatrical-output deals with the Walt Disney Co. and Sony/Columbia Pictures, and ramped up the network’s volume buys of library-movie inventories. His most recent title was senior VP of programming.

Before Starz, Shelanski was director of scheduling for Cinemax.

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