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Starz Developing Crash Drama Series

Starz is developing a drama series based on Academy Award-winning feature film Crash.

The network picked up 13 one-hour episodes of the series, the network’s first ever original drama. People involved with the original film -- including Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco, Bob Yari and Don Cheadle -- will serve as producers on the new series.

Crash introduced a whole range of fascinating characters and engrossing, intertwined stories that are ideally suited for developing into a TV series,” said Stephan Shelanski, executive vice president of programming for Starz, in a statement. “Starz is the premium channel for movies, so it’s appropriate that this Best Picture-winner is providing the basis for our first dramatic series. The fact that key members of the film’s production team are involved will ensure that our series maintains the high level of talent and creativity captured in the film.”

The series will be produced by Lionsgate, which signed an interim agreement with the Writers Guild of America last week. The deal means that production of the new series will be able to go on despite the strike.

Haggis, who co-wrote and produced the film, was excited to see his work hit the small screen: “I'm very happy that Lionsgate and Starz have decided to develop Crash into a series,” he said. “Ironically, my initial impulse was to present the material in a format for television. I am thrilled that it's coming full circle and can't wait to see how it expands and transforms.”

According to Don Cheadle, one of the stars of the film, the series will cover themes that go beyond what they featured on the big screen: “[Crash] will present an opportunity to delve into many subjects, not just race relations in Los Angeles,” he said. “I don't think you can do 13 episodes on that subject and keep people interested. The challenge will be to craft the series’ characters in such a way as to get beneath the skin that supposedly differentiates them and create entertaining story lines that show the hurdles and obstacles we all struggle to overcome day to day.”

Starz has faced stiff competition from pay-network heavyweights Showtime and HBO, which have successfully launched a slew of hit drama series, including The Sopranos and Dexter. Crash marks Starz’s first attempt to develop original drama programming -- a move that could establish the network as a serious competitor to its larger rivals.

The network recently launched its first two original comedy series, Hollywood Residential and Head Case.

Crash the series will debut on Starz sometime in 2008, although the network did not announce a premiere date.