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Starz chief Chris Albrecht took the stage at Friday’s Television Critics Association tour stop to defend his decision to order a second season of low-rated critical darling Boss.
The former HBO chief, credited with lining the Starz rival with such shows as The Sopranos and Sex and the City, ordered a second season of the Kelsey Grammer political drama before its first made it to air. Asked if the latter was a decision he had since second-guessed given the show’s performance in the ratings, Albrecht insisted it “absolutely” was not.
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“Our sponsors are thrilled. We have not heard a complaint from one of them… no one has asked for any makeups on the commercial spots,” said Albrecht, clearly joking as the premium cable network model doesn’t involve advertisers or make-goods.
On a more sincere note, he suggested a series like Boss is a critical piece of Starz’ brand building process, one that also requires bold bets, no pilots and a focus on cinematical dramas over half-hour comedies.
“If we think the work is good and if the team in place has the capacity to continue to do that work, then we’re going to stand behind a [show],” he added of what he calls his “MO” for the network.
In the case of Boss, the awards circle seemingly does too. Both the show and Grammer are in contention for Golden Globes Sunday.
Albrecht noted that he, too, was particularly compelled by the series, which stars Grammer as a Chicago mayor who controls everything but the melodrama. The exec said that when he read the finale script, he couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. He then joked that there was only one way to find out since he couldn’t trick creator Farhad Safinia into telling him.
STORY: ‘Boss’: Farhad Safinia On the Season Finale and What’s Ahead
None of it is to say he’s willing to ignore a series’ ratings forever. Instead, he said he recognizes that a show needs to “resonate” and ultimately make an “impact” on Starz’s two main constituencies –the affiliates and the subscribers– at a certain point.
Of course, there are also examples where neither one is enough. Though historical fantasy series Camelot lured sizable viewership for Starz, Albrecht decided to pull the plug. His rationale: “On the production side there were just too many challenges and it was just not going to be the show that we wanted it to be, so we made the tough decision.”
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