LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht kicked off the network's portion of the TCA Summer Press Tour with updates on its new and returning originals.
"We've completed production on 'Spartacus: War of the Damned'; obviously we've completed production on 'Boss,'" the executive said in his opening remarks. Adding, "We are in production on 'Da Vinci's Demons'; we are about to start production in a couple of weeks on the second season of 'Magic City'; and we are in pre-production in South Africa on 'Black Sails.'"
Speaking of "Spartacus," Albrecht detailed why the show will end after the upcoming season, due in January: "I think the producers and those of us at Starz were always well aware that this was going to be a very different show once the slaves were in, the rebels were in the hills and the Romans were in the town... So we ended up sort of having to tell two distinct stories which is never the ultimate way to create a great serialized drama. Then of course we had the tragedy with Andy [Whitfield] which made everything very difficult and pushed back [production].
Having said that the show has been remarkably successful and I think ultimately what all of the producers felt - along with us - is that rather than trying to string out a story - we can have one more battle, one more argument between the rebels or one more villain show up - we would kind of follow the trajectory of the history and bring the 'Spartacus' story to fruition. Better probably to leave people wanting more than to risk repeating ourselves and diminish the overall impact of the franchise."
Albrecht also gave rough estimates on when audiences can expect its various projects:
-- "Incursion": "Steven DeKnight has an overall deal with Starz and he just returned last week - or this weekend I guess - from Hawaii where he shot a proof of concept piece is what we're calling it, not a pilot, it's just a scene or two for a show that he's developed that we are very high on called 'Incursion,' which is a sci-fi piece, kind of 'Band of Brothers' meets 'Halo' would be the one line of it. It's again, incredibly ambitious and involves a lot of creature work and things like that."
-- "Da Vinci's Demons": "[It] will be on most likely second quarter, end of first quarter, second quarter 2013, most likely. Nothing announced yet or set in stone."
-- "Black Sails": "2014, hopefully very early , potentially in the 'Spartacus' slot. Again nothing set just letting you in on some of our thinking."
-- "Marco Polo": "The challenge of making this show in China has proved to be as formidable as we feared. And it's not like making a movie in China where once you load up then you leave, you're done, we have to be able to come back and again capture something that's going to feel like a major feature film on a television budget and do it hopefully season after season. So we are taking more time than I think the producers thought and I don't have any news on that, it's still very much in the planning stage although we've spent plenty of money and invested a lot of time in making all those plans."
-- "Noir": "We ran into some creative challenges on the script side but it is absolutely in our zone. We talk about Steven DeKnight, but Rob Tapert, Josh Donen and Sam Raimi, that whole team of executive producers are terrific, they're terrific partners with Starz. We want to do as many things as we can with them. I have a couple of things with them but 'Noir' is certainly I think the thing that we all see as a must figure out. So we're still getting the scripts together but I'm very confident that 'Noir' will be on but I can't tell you when."