Is “The Girlfriend Experience” about to become the new “Fargo”?
Starz announced on Monday (June 23) that it has ordered a somewhat fascinating — in concept, if TBD in terms of execution — 13-part anthology series based on Steven Soderbergh's 2009 indie.
“The Girlfriend Experience,” if you've somehow forgotten, featured adult actress Sasha Grey as a high-end Manhattan escort offering GFE, Girlfriend Experiences meant to simulate the intimacies of actual marriages or relationships.
A 2009 Sundance premiere, “The Girlfriend Experience” wouldn't immediately seem to be the most likely movie-to-TV transfer. It grossed under $700,000 at the domestic box office and reviews were more “curious” than positive/negative for the drama, which had a running time of under 80 minutes. “The Girlfriend Experience” is probably thought of among Soderbergh's digital experiments, projects like “Full Frontal” or “Bubble,” rather than positioned among the Oscar and Emmy winner's bigger critical or popular successes.
It appears that the experimental nature of “The Girlfriend Experience” is what attracted Starz.
Soderbergh and Philip Fleishman will executive produce the TV “Girlfriend Experience,” but the project will be written and directed by Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz.
In the Starz release, Soderbergh explains the structure of “The Girlfriend Experience” and how the TV series came to be.
“We”re in an exciting period of auteur-driven television right now,” Soderbergh blurbs. “When Philip floated the idea of a 'Girlfriend Experience'-inspired television show, I thought: 'Let”s make it a different woman in a different city, let”s pair two independent writer/directors, one male and one female, and let them do the whole thing.” I”ve known Lodge for 20 years and I became a fan of Amy”s when I saw her first feature last summer. We went to Chris Albrecht because he and I have been trying to find something to do together since we did “K Street” 11 years ago. He responded without hesitation to both the idea of the show and the approach.”
Most recently seen as an actress in “The Killing,” “Family Tree” and “Upstream Color,” Seimetz made her feature debut as a writer-director on 2012's “Sun Don't Shine.”
Kerrigan made his name as writer-director on acclaimed indies including “Clean, Shaven” and “Keane.” In recent years he has carved out a strong niche as a cable TV director with episodes of “Homeland,” “The Americans,” “Red Road” and “The Killing” on his resume.
“We”re excited to work with Steven and Philip to develop this anthology series that takes viewers into a world where intimacy has a price. We were captivated by Steven”s exploration of a story where emotional consequences arise, surprising and complicating the lives of both the clients and the professional ‘lovers,”” states Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz. “This series gives Starz an opportunity to work with some of the most talented independent filmmakers of today, and craft a cinematic exploration into the hearts of relationships – in line with the original film.”
Soderbergh's most recent stab at auteur television is Cinemax's “The Knick,” starring Clive Owen. It will premiere on August 8, with Soderbergh behind the camera for all 10 episodes.
Starz has yet to announce a timetable for “The Girlfriend Experience,” which will be 13 half-hour episodes. And how will “The Girlfriend Experience” fit with Starz' generally giggly depictions of sexuality and intimacy? Color me genuinely curious…