'Step Up' Series Moves to Starz From YouTube (Exclusive)

Step Up: High Water - Starz Publicity-H 2020
Courtesy of Starz

Starz is resuscitating a YouTube series.

The cabler has revived Step Up, a year after the show was canceled at YouTube and shopped to new buyers. The move, which will see the dance drama reimagined for a premium outlet, makes sense given that it is produced and owned by Starz parent company Lionsgate.

Step Up becomes the second YouTube castoff to find a new home after the streamer pulled out of scripted originals; On Becoming a God in Central Florida moved to Showtime ahead of its planned YouTube premiere. Starz, like other broadcast, cable and streaming outlets, has been making a concerted push to own all of its programming. The first two seasons of the YouTube series will also be available on Starz platforms ahead of the new effort. A premiere date has not yet been determined.

"The latest installment of Step Up not only reimagines the entire franchise but is filled with high energy, lots of heart and electrifying dance moves, and we’re very excited to reunite the talented cast and creative teams for another great season,” Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs said Thursday in a statement. “This collaboration underscores our ability to work successfully across our businesses to supply premium content to Starz.”

From creator and executive producer Holly Sorensen, the creative team and cast of Step Up: High Water are all returning for the new 10-episode series on Starz — though the latter part of the show's title has now been dropped. The show revolves around Sage Odom (Ne-Yo) as the legendary founder of Atlanta’s famed High Water Performing Arts School and Collette (Naya Rivera), his partner in High Water and in life. Tricia Helfer will join the cast that also includes Petrice Jones, Faizon Love, Marcus Mitchell, Jade Chynoweth, Carlito Olivero, Terrence Green, Eric Graise and Kendra Oyesanya. Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot, who produced the original Step Up films, will return as exec producers alongside original stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. Erik Feig, the Lionsgate executive who oversaw the franchise, also exec produces alongside Bill Brown.

"Holly and her team have created a new and dynamic iteration of the series that captures the hallmarks that have made the Step Up franchise so successful and elevates the storytelling for the premium, global audience,” said Christina Davis, Starz's newly hired head of originals. “This, coupled with the worldwide appeal of the multitalented, multicultural cast, will make this series a great addition to our slate.”

The revived Step Up arrives as YouTube has almost exclusively abandoned scripted originals. All that remains on its lineup are Sony TV's Cobra Kai and Liza on Demand.

Under new CEO Jeffrey 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 Television Critics Association 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.

Starz's roster includes Outlander, American Gods, P-Valley, Hightown, The Girlfriend Experience, Dangerous Liaisons, Heels, multiple Power spinoffs, the comedy Run the World, the Courteney Cox series Shining Vale, Becoming Elizabeth and 50 Cent's Black Mafia Family.