Starz Courted 'Fifty Shades of Grey' TV Series

Before the 2015 film adaptation came together, CEO Chris Albrecht told Universal he'd give a three-year commitment to a show based on EL James' juggernaut book.
Universal/Focus Features
"Fifty Shades of Grey" movie poster

Fifty Shades of Grey was almost a TV series.

Well, it probably would never have happened, but the offer was on the table. During Friday's Starz panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, CEO Chris Albrecht said that he was willing to give the adaptation of EL James' huge S&M best-seller a three-season commitment.

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The subject came up when Albrecht was discussing Starz's significantly less kinky romance novel adaption for Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. "If you read the book, this could only be a series," he said of his new source material. "I'm the guy who called up Universal and said, 'I'll get you three years on the air as a series. Let's just do a Fifty Shades of Grey series. But movie people think things are movies, and authors think things are movies. Up until recently, movies were the Tiffany jewel in the crown."

Fifty Shades of Grey, of course, arrives in theaters in 2015. After much speculation (and a little drama) Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were ultimately cast as the S&M love interests.

It was a tiny bombshell during Albrecht's executive session Q&A, which found him discussing the recent spate of successful books landing on television. Game of Thrones is now the biggest series in HBO history, and only last week Starz picked up the rights to adapt Neil Gaiman's American Gods — a coveted but complicated tome that was once in development at HBO.

When pushed about how far Fifty Shades talk got with Universal, Albrecht demurred. "I know the people that run the place over there," he said. "They were very nice to listen to me."