Starz prexy Chris Albrecht brought his global vision to the Mip TV confab in Cannes on Monday, talking up the need for U.S. outlets to look far beyond their borders in the search for high-profile programming and profits.
“It is nearly impossible for producers to fully monetize shows without utilizing a global perspective,” said Albrecht, the former HBO chief who took the reins of Starz in January. Since then, Albrecht has greenlighted several international co-productions, including the Euro mini “Pillars of the Earth” and a costume drama series “Camelot,” of Irish and Canadian pedigree.
On Monday, Albrecht unveiled two projects in development with Ben Silverman’s globally minded production venture, Electus: historical drama “William the Conquerer,” spearheaded by Gallic helmer Pierre Morel (“Taken”); and “Peacekeeper,” an action-thriller set in the UN building that is co-created by Silverman and Fisher Stevens (“The Cove”).
“Conquerer” will be exec produced by Morel, who may also direct a few segs, and his producing partner Renee Tab.
Albrecht spoke to a packed house and was well received as he outlined his goal for building Starz’ into an original programming contender alongside its pay TV rivals HBO and Showtime.
“Showtime has built a very distinct brand. HBO built a kind of colossus,” he said. “I hope we’ll be entertaining.”
Albrecht said he’d like to see in a year’s time as much as four event miniseries, and as many as half a dozen original series airing on the cabler.
Albrecht was pressed about the strong bent toward period pieces in the programs he’s greenlighted to date. He also inherited the “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” drama series that performed well for the cabler and is renewed for a soph season.
“The business model is going to be: If it’s got a sword, we want it,” Albrecht joked. “But (picking up) a good contemporary or futuristic piece right now might not be bad.”
Separately, Silverman’s shingle unveiled a deal with “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera to exec produce “Pedro and Maria,” a bilingual telenovela for MTV.
Procter and Gamble Prods. is on board as a producer and integrated marketing partner.
Silverman created “Pedro and Maria,” and his Electus shingle will own the TV, film and digital rights to the franchise internationally. Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the Broadway musical “In the Heights,” is writing the script and is on board as an exec producer, along with Silverman and Ferrera.
Cynthia Littleton and Michael Schneider contributed to this report.