2:35pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Starz Programming Chief Moves to Apple
File this one under "that was fast."
Two days after stepping down from his post as Starz programming president, Carmi Zlotnik has moved to Apple, signing an exclusive producing deal with the tech company. Under the pact, which begins next month, he will help the iPhone maker expand its slate of scripted originals worldwide.
Zlotnik, who presented Starz's originals Hightown, Outlander and Vida to reporters earlier this month at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, will step down from his position at Starz following a decade with the cabler. He will remain on board through the end of the month and consult while helping Starz with the transition.
Zlotnik's departure from Starz arrived nearly a year after CEO Chris Albrecht was forced out amid a power struggle with new owner Lionsgate. He was among the last executives from the Albrecht regime at Starz.
Zlotnik's exit leaves Starz without a senior creative executive. Jeffrey Hirsch — who previously served as Starz's COO — was tapped to serve as Albrecht's interim replacement nearly a year ago. Hirsch was formally given Albrecht's president and CEO title in September. Under his purview, a number of execs from Albrecht's regime departed. Among them was rising star Marta Fernandez, who served as executive vp originals and had been with the cabler for 12 years when she stepped down last May — a mere five months after she was promoted to the position.
Under Hirsch, Starz is more closely aligning itself with parent company Lionsgate. Nearly all of its scripted originals are now produced in-house by Lionsgate TV, with more in the works from the studio including offshoots of its well-known IP like Weeds and Blindspotting. Hirsch's mandate, as he explained to critics in his first TCA appearance since taking over the network, is to focus on what he called "premium female." He is looking for period dramas that resonate with the upscale and older female viewers who are drawn to the Starz hit Outlander.
For his part, Zlotnik spent a decade with Starz and helped launch many of the premium cable network's most beloved originals, including the mega-hit Power, Outlander, American Gods, Vida, The Girlfriend Experience, The White Queen, Black Sails, Magic City and Spartacus, and the upcoming Hightown and Power spinoffs. Albrecht brought Zlotnik into Starz after the former arrived from HBO in 2010, reuniting the execs who together helped develop shows including Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and many others.
Zlotnik becomes the latest high-ranking network executive to move to Apple, joining former WGN America boss Matt Cherniss and former HBO CEO Richard Plepler, with the latter signing a similar producing deal with the company behind originals like The Morning Show.