Piers Morgan to Exec Produce Tabloid Journalism Drama for Starz

Piers Morgan

"He came off like the slightly crazy uncle at the Christmas party who's had one too many sherries and doesn't quite get it."

Starz is turning its lens on tabloid journalism.

The cable network home to DaVinci's Demons and the upcoming Black Sails is developing a period drama about tabloid journalism with CNN's Piers Morgan -- a former tabloid editor of The Sun, News of the World and Daily Mirror -- attached to executive produce.

Fleet Street is set in England in the 1970s and will chronicle the rise of tabloid journalism, the sexual revolution and class warfare -- told through the eyes of an American journalist.

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The drama hails from Lionsgate Television (which produced Boss for Starz) in association with Richard Branson's Virgin Produced, Octagon Entertainment and Morgan's Ferrett Productions. Morgan (CNN's Piers Morgan Live, America's Got Talent) will executive produce alongside Octagon managing director John Ferriter (Arsenio Hall Show) and Virgin's Jason Felts, Justin Berfield and Michael Forman. BAFTA-winning screenwriter Danny Brocklehurst (U.K.'s Shameless, Clocking Off) will pen the pilot and executive produce.

“Imagine an industry where every single opponent worked in the same street, competing with each other by day -- drinking, brawling, fornicating, night clubbing and cocaine-snorting with each other by night," Morgan said in a statement announcing the news Wednesday. "A street full of the most ruthless and amoral people in the world existed, and it was called Fleet Street. In the early '70s, it became the breeding ground for modern popular journalism, as foreign media tycoons stomped over the British establishment to re-define 'news,' suddenly exposing the rich, powerful and famous in spectacular front-page scoops. It was the dawn of the celebrity era, in all its gruesome detail -- a revolution that changed pop culture and the relationship between the press and politicians, royals and stars. Fleet Street in the '70s was a hotbed of scoops, shagging, flairs and devastating world that was also unbelievably exciting. Danny Brocklehurst has brought Fleet Street to life in a way that I believe will grip audiences.”

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For Starz, Fleet Street comes as the premium cable network is ramping up its original scripted fare as it is set to lose its portfolio of Disney films in 2016. Starz is scheduled to launch at least four scripted series in 2013, including the recently completed final season of Spartacus, season two of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Magic City, freshman period drama Da Vinci's Demons -- which has already been renewed for a second season -- and new limited series The White Queen with Janet McTeer

“Starz is looking forward to working with Lionsgate again on a project we have a tremendous amount of faith in,” Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said. “Fleet Street in the '70s was the Madison Avenue of the media world. The wild times and fantastical characters of Piers’ past make for compelling storytelling that the Starz audience craves.”

"When Piers told me about his unbelievable experiences in the competitive world of newspapers on Fleet Street and about the characters that influenced him, I couldn't imagine a better or more compelling series. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, love and scoops -- Fleet Street will have them all. We couldn't be happier to be in business with Starz, Virgin Produced, Lionsgate and Danny,” Ferriter said.

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“We’ve been eager to work with Starz again on a series we all feel passionate about,” Lionsgate Television Group president Kevin Beggs said. "And Fleet Street is that project. We’re excited to be working with this entire team led by Piers, who knows this fascinating world better than anyone.”

Starz also is developing the sci-fi action thriller Incursion from SpartacusSteven S. DeKnight, about a group of soldiers caught in a war against a hostile alien race; a potential Spartacus spinoff; and Turf, a drama about the birth of hip-hop from Patrick Macmanus; a Vietnam War drama from Newsroom's Gideon Yago; and a crime drama from The Departed's William Monahan, among others.  

Morgan is repped by Octagon and Jackoway Tyerman.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit