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Starz is looking to add another risqué drama to its original series slate.
Shortly after renewing the escort drama The Girlfriend Experience, the pay cabler on Monday announced at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that it is developing a pole dancer series titled Pussy Valley.
The hourlong drama takes an unflinching and unapologetic look at the lives of five pole dancers working at an infamous Mississippi “shake junt” called the Pink Pony. In this Southern strip-club world, the desires of athletes and politicians collide with the dreams of these working women on the quest for money, power and respect. The line between performance and reality blurs as their personal drama spills onto the stage.
Creator and writer Katori Hall (The Blood Quilt) will executive produce Pussy Valley with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin (New Girl), Jenno Topping (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Dante Di Loreto (American Horror Story). Khaliah Neal will serve as consulting producer. Starz senior vp original programming Marta Fernandez will serve as the executive in charge of Pussy Valley.
“We’re excited to work with Katori Hall, who has successfully created exciting and complex roles for black women in the American theater, and we’re confident she’ll continue to do so with Pussy Valley,” Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik said in a statement.
Also in development at Starz is an adaptation of the best-selling novel Dirty Girls Social Club, written by Alisa Valdes. The project is described as a sexy half-hour series about six diverse professional women living in New York City who have known each other since college. A decade later, they can still count on each other as they weather professional and personal ups and downs.
“I cannot think of a better home for this project than Starz. I am thrilled to be working with so many visionary, brilliant and creative people,” said Valdes. “The team the network put together is truly phenomenal. For me, this is a dream come true and I am so thankful to everyone who worked to make this deal reality. I can’t wait to see my characters come to life onscreen.”
Ligiah Villalobos (Under the Same Moon) will serve as as showrunner, with Anne Thomopoulos (Rome) and veteran network executive Lucia Cottone also exec producing. Fernandez will be the Starz executive in charge.
“The Dirty Girls Social Club is a wonderful story about friendship with complex, nuanced characters,” said Zlotnik. “We couldn’t be happier to work with Ligiah and to have her bring Alisa’s best-selling novel to life. We are proud to develop a series that celebrates cultural diversity, produced by a diverse group of women.”
Starz‘ third new project in development, Teresa, is a collaboration with Lionsgate — which the channel is currently in the process of merging with — and Televisa USA. Based on the popular Mexican telenovela of the same name, Teresa centers on an undocumented young Latina’s ruthless pursuit of money and power in Los Angeles, and her willingness to do anything to get them.
Carlos Portugal (East Los High) will create the series and serve as showrunner. Fernandez will be the Starz executive in charge.
“We’re excited to be working with Carlos, Lionsgate and Televisa USA on redeveloping this iconic telenovela for American audiences,” said Zlotnik. “Teresa will showcase a modern take on what it means to be Latina in America.”
Teresa continues Starz’s focus on underserved communities — a strategy that has served the pay cabler well thus far with the drama Power and the comedy Survivor’s Remorse, both of which have been able to tap into African-American audiences. Starz began targeting Latino audiences in January, when it commenced developing adaptations of three Spanish-language formats.
“We’re excited about collaborating with Chris, Carmi and the team at Starz as well as our friends at Televisa USA on this powerful new series,” said Lionsgate Television Group exec vp Chris Selak. “Teresa brings together terrific partners, a singular property and a world-class creative team for an audience that we know well, and we believe that the series will resonate not only with Latino viewers but audiences everywhere.”
Televisa USA’s Chris Philip added: “Starz has proven to be a great programming partner and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with this updated take on a hugely successful Televisa format.”
Starz’s robust development slate comes weeks after the channel successfully shifted its original programming from Saturday to Sunday evenings with the season-three premiere of Power, which drew some of its best numbers to date. The drama earned a two-season renewal days later, following the two-season renewal Outlander received in June. In addition to those shows and The Girlfriend Experience, Starz’s original series include The Missing, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Blunt Talk and Black Sails, which is gearing up for its final season.
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