HBO the last few years has developed a pattern where it renews most of its series within two days of their premiere. Chris Albrecht, who used to run HBO, is trying to do his old home one better from his new position as CEO of Starz, renewing shows before they’ve even debuted.
Albrecht did it back in the fall with Kelsey Grammer in “Boss,” and how he’s done it with “Magic City,” which won’t even debut until April 6 but already has an order for a 10-episode second season.
“Magic City” was created by screenwriter Mitch Glazer and is set in and around a Miami resort hotel in the late ’50s. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the hotel’s owner, struggling to keep the place open under pressure from unions, changing times, and his wiseguy business partner (Danny Huston). Olga Kurylenko (the Bond girl from “Quantum of Solace”) plays his trophy wife.
“‘Magic City” is a beautifully written, superbly acted, and visually stunning series, and we feel the quality of the work accomplished deserves a second season,” Albrecht said in a statement. “It has already been sold in more than 70 territories worldwide, and represents the kind of premium entertainment the Starz brand is seeking to create.”
The similar gamble on “Boss” didn’t seem to work out too well, as the show’s ratings were well below the bar that Starz’s signature series “Spartacus” has set on Friday nights. Back at the TV critics January press tour, Albrecht was asked whether he had any regrets about renewing before seeing any kind of ratings data. He noted that as a pay cable network, they don’t have any advertisers to please, so their decisions are made for other reasons.
“I think I would absolutely make the same decision again,” he said, noting that Starz doesn’t produce pilot episodes the way the other channels do, so he almost views first seasons as an extended pilot process. “The way I”m looking at the shows is if we look at the material and we say, ‘You know what? This is what we set out to do. This is good, and the team is in place to continue to make it good and, hopefully, better,’ then we”re going to support that show into a second season. Because I think that, given the serialized nature of television, given the way that the different windows play, I think it”s the right thing for STARZ to do. And it”s very easy to bail and pull the plug, but that”s, I don”t think, the way that we want to establish ourselves.”