Tune In: Original Cable Programming

No. of subscribers: 16 million

Network topper: Robert Clasen

Programming topper: Stephan

Shelanski

Top originals: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson; New Orleans Music in Exile; Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film

Upcoming originals: Head Case, Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand-Up, The Bronx Bunny Show

The skinny: Realizing that buying movies from studios ultimately ends up being a money-losing proposition, pay-service Starz is amping up its original pics. Net hired former MGM honcho Chris McGurk to accelerate the process and create home-owned material as the studio contracts are expiring. Net may not eliminate all studio deals, however, and could reup with Disney, whose deal ends in 2009 — and chances are the Mouse might be more willing to negotiate this time around. New TV comedy block also indicates Starz would like to use programming that would seem a suitable fit for digital presentation.

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