9:49am PT by Michael O'Connell
Starz CEO on Filming in Cuba: "That Depends on Who Is the Next President"
The first week of 2016 brought news that two entertainment productions would, or at least intend to, shoot in Cuba. One year after President Obama reestablished diplomatic relations with the Communist Caribbean island it may soon be a hot spot for location shoots — though, depending on who you speak with, that may depend on the upcoming election.
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht fielded a few questions about the pay cable network's roster on Friday morning, and one was about the status of Antonio Banderas vehicle Havana Quartet. A series adaptation of Leonardo Padura's Cuba-set detective novels has been in the works at Starz since the summer.
"We haven't greenlit it yet," noted Albrecht. "We're still in the script stage and very optimistic. Antonio is certainly eagerly waiting for next steps. And then there's the challenge of, 'Will it shoot in Cuba?"
A Cuban shoot has been the intention since the start of development, but it is not so easily done.
"That's evolving all of the time," Albrecht added. "It's going to be possible to shoot some things in Cuba. I guess that depends on who is the next president."
Drawing laughs for his obvious reference to border-closing enthusiast and GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, The Hollywood Reporter asked Albrecht if there was a contingency plan for Havana Quartet if Trump ends up being elected in November.
"Yes," he said, chuckling, "The back lot of Warners [Bros.] dressed like Havana."
Other projects already in the works will make their way into Cuba before the end of Obama's tenure. Showtime announced that comedy House of Lies would film an episode of its upcoming fifth season in Havana. "We’re grateful to Showtime, our production team and everyone who worked so diligently to make this trip happen," said star and EP Don Cheadle.
The upcoming eighth installment of the famously globe-trotting Fast and Furious franchise is also eyeing a Cuba shoot. Director F. Gary Gray recently scouted the previously embargoed nation as a potential filming location for the 2017 feature.