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King Albrecht Takes Starz to ‘Camelot’

The pay cable network’s new chief opens his pocketbook for a new take on the British legend

Pay-cable network Starz has picked up the U.S. rights to "Camelot," a new take on the King Arthur legend being put together by an international consortium of networks and producer Graham King ("The Departed").

While new Starz president/CEO Chris Albrecht approved Starz’ involvement in the project, "Camelot" didn’t come from his creative team. Instead, the project was put together in the international marketplace, with Starz joining networks in the UK, Canada and Ireland in funding the Ecosse Films-originated production.

Indeed, the series will be shot in Ireland, with post-production in Canada. It’s anticipated Starz will be able to begin airing "Camelot" in the first part of 2011.

Chris Chibnall, whose credits include the British cult dramas "Torchwood" and "Life on Mars," is set to oversee the writing on "Camelot," using Thomas Malory’s "Le Morte d’ Arthur" as source material. It’s the first TV project for King’s newly launched GK-TV banner, headed by Craig Cegielski.

Albrecht said producers have "envisioned a highly entertaining and distinctly original TV program that fits in perfectly with our lineup, coming on the heels of our successful original series ‘Spartacus: Blood and Sand’ and the returning comedy ‘Party Down,’ along with our recent acquisition of the event series based on Ken Follett’s ‘The Pillars of the Earth.’ ”

In addition to U.S. broadcast rights, Starz has purchased digital and home video distribution rights for "Camelot" in the States. GK-TV has distribution rights for the rest of North America and the world.

Albrecht has plenty of experience with using the international marketplace to bring programming to the States. Most recently, he helped set up Showtime’s agreement to acquire "Secret Diary of a Call Girl." And at HBO, he brought in Italy’s RAI to serve as co-producer of the ambitious (but ultimately unsuccessful) "Rome."

While "Camelot" could also end up sparking buzz and bringing viewers to Starz, it won’t likely serve as Albrecht’s first big project at the network as a creative force.