Starz is making its first foray into docuseries, greenlighting four new projects that explore the criminal justice system, a winning youth sports program from LeBron James and Maverick Carter, the world of fashion and the legacy of hip-hop music on American culture.
Starz chief Chris Albrecht teased during the Lionsgate earnings call yesterday that the network would be focusing on diversification and would soon be announcing its move into docuseries, an arena that has been successful for premium peers HBO and Showtime.
“Unique voices and storytelling are the hallmarks of the Starz programming strategy, and we are proud to announce our investment in these filmmakers and the stories they passionately want to tell,” said Albrecht with today’s announcement. “With each project, we will explore and better understand our collective cultural history.”
The projects hail from Oscar-nominated and Peabody and Emmy-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio); showrunner Evan Rosenfeld (Vice World of Sports), LeBron James and Maverick Carter; Eli Frankel (Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian), Andrew Fried (Chef’s Table) and Kelly Cutrone (America’s Next Top Model) and Worldstar Hip Hop and Mass Appeal.
Details of the four docuseries are below:
Wrong Man is a six-part series that dives deep into the investigations that led to the conviction of three people who claim their innocence. It’s estimated that 1 in 25 prisoners in the U.S. are convicted for crimes they did not commit. With more than 2 million people in prison, that means a staggering 94,300 innocent people may be behind bars. Academy Award and seven-time Emmy-nominated and Peabody and Emmy-winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger (“Gone: The Forgotten Women of Ohio,” “Paradise Lost” Trilogy, “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”) will executive produce and direct. Chris Grant (“Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” “The Toy Box,” “Darkness”) and Drew Buckley (“Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” “The Toy Box,” “Darkness”) with Electus will executive produce with Radical’s Justin Wilkes (“Oprah’s Master Class,” “Year Million,” “Mars”), Dave O’Connor (“Abstract: The Art of Design,” “Mars,” “America Divided”), Jon Doran (“Park Bench with Steve Buscemi,” “Neighborhood Sessions,” “Iconoclasts”) and Erica Sashin (“Parched,” “Border Wars,” “Rescue Ink Unleashed”) with Ben Silverman (“The Office,” “Jane the Virgin,” “Marco Polo”). “Wrong Man” is produced by Third Eye Motion Picture Company, Electus and RadicalMedia. Starz retains all domestic distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.
Warriors of Liberty City docuseries from PGA-winning showrunner Evan Rosenfeld explores Liberty City – a crime-ridden neighborhood in Miami, Florida that is arguably the NFL’s largest football factory. The series follows a season with the Liberty City Warriors, a youth football program founded by an unlikely mentor: Luther Campbell, better known as “Uncle Luke” from the 2 Live Crew. Before Moonlight shook the Oscars, Liberty City was best known for some of the biggest names in football, including Devonta Freeman, Antonio Brown, Duke Johnson and Teddy Bridgewater. But it’s also a place synonymous with poverty and gun violence, and even more disturbing, in Liberty City, it’s now kids killing kids. Yet in the face of trauma and tragedy, football legends are born.
The series from Rosenfeld (“Vice World of Sports,” 30 for 30’s “The U” and “Broke,” “Dawg Fight”) is executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter for SpringHill Entertainment (Starz Original series “Survivor’s Remorse,” “The Wall”) and Pam Healey and John Hesling for Shed Media, a division of Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Television, as well as Luther Campbell, will take a deeper dive into the unique characters and inner-workings of Liberty City. Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter Andrew Cohn (Night School, Medora, Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic) will serve as director. Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.
In Fashion is an hour-long anthology series that will feature the world’s most compelling fashion designers working today. Combining biography and documentary storytelling, each episode will delve into the life and work of one iconic designer. We will follow them in the weeks leading up to a crucial moment in their career. Being immersed in their lives, we gain unique access into the way they work and the intimate stories of how they got to this place so many strive for but never achieve. Eli Frankel (“Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian”), Andrew Fried (“Chef’s Table”) and Kelly Cutrone (“America’s Next Top Model”) will executive produce. The series is produced by Boardwalk Pictures and Rogue Atlas Productions in association with Lionsgate, and Starz has retained all global distribution and home entertainment rights.
The Field explores hip-hop and socio-political culture through the eyes of a city’s most prolific characters – past, present and future – capturing the essence of a city’s personality. Having shaped the culture from within, these characters tell their stories the way it really was, transporting the audience into the underbelly that composes the city, a place that is often seen but seldom accessed. It’s a series that showcases the hustle and determination of each city’s most iconic artists. It’s about their desire to rise out from their community but to never forget the place where they came from. The series takes the viewer into places only miles apart but worlds away and into the grit and grime that covers an entire metropolis.
The docu-series is spearheaded by Worldstar Hip Hop and Mass Appeal. Executive produced by Worldstar’s Javier Sang (The Field: Violence, Hip-Hop and Hope in Chicago) and Ed Dwyer, alongside Sacha Jenkins (“Being Terry Kennedy,” “The (White) Rapper Show,” “Fresh Dressed”) and Peter Bittenbender (“Avec Eric,” Fresh Dressed) of Mass Appeal with Douglas Banker (“World Star TV,” The After Party) of Five All in the Fifth Entertainment. Mandon Lovett (The Field: Violence, Hip-Hop and Hope in Chicago) is set to co-direct the premiere episode with Sacha Jenkins and continue on to direct the series. This series will have an eye for maintaining the legacy of Worldstar Hip Hop late founder Lee “Q” Odenat, who was instrumental with the project’s creation and development. The deal was negotiated and packaged by Jad Dayeh of WME. Starz retains all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.