Starz today announced the greenlight of The Girlfriend Experience, a 13-part anthology series produced by Transactional Pictures. Inspired by the 2009 Magnolia Pictures film of the same title, Steven Soderbergh and Philip Fleishman will serve as executive producers along with independent filmmakers Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz, who will also write and direct on the series.
The scripted anthology series will feature 13 half-hour episodes.
The Girlfriend Experience explores the relationships of the most exclusive courtesans who provide their clients with far more than just sex. These purveyors - or GFEs (Girlfriend Experience) - share intimacies more common to romantic partners or husbands and wives, becoming quasi-lovers and confidants who are richly paid for their time.
Chris Albrecht, CEO of Starz had this to say in his statement.
"We are all such fans of the movie that the idea of exploring this world through many different characters, voices and points of view was especially intriguing. Steven and Philip's approach to the format is unique and not something seen on the entertainment landscape today. Working with Steven is always a thrill, and we are excited to break the mold with this project yet again."
Steven Soderbergh had this to say about how the TV series came to be.
"We're in an exciting period of auteur-driven television right now. When Philip floated the idea of a Girlfriend Experience-inspired television show, I thought: 'Let's make it a different woman in a different city, let's pair two independent writer/directors, one male and one female, and let them do the whole thing.' I've known Lodge for 20 years and I became a fan of Amy's when I saw her first feature last summer. We went to Chris Albrecht because he and I have been trying to find something to do together since we did K Street 11 years ago. He responded without hesitation to both the idea of the show and the approach."
Carmi Zlotnik, Managing Director of Starz, had this to say in her own statement.
"We're excited to work with Steven and Philip to develop this anthology series that takes viewers into a world where intimacy has a price. We were captivated by Steven's exploration of a story where emotional consequences arise, surprising and complicating the lives of both the clients and the professional 'lovers.' This series gives Starz an opportunity to work with some of the most talented independent filmmakers of today, and craft a cinematic exploration into the hearts of relationships - in line with the original film."
Executive Producer Philip Fleishman had this to say about the actual women the show is inspired by.
"Many of these women are extremely accomplished. They range from musicians in major orchestras to PhD candidates in the sciences and often feel empowered by the control and economic freedom their work as GFE's affords them. The question is whether they define a new genus of contemporary relationship, or have relationships always been transactionally based in one form or another?"
Soderbergh, whose distinguished career spans across television, film and stage, won a 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for the television film Behind the Candelabra which debuted on HBO last year. He earned the Academy Award in 2000 for directing Traffic, the same year he was nominated for Erin Brockovich. Soderbergh earlier gained an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Sex, Lies, and Videotape, his feature film directorial debut. His other credits include Magic Mike, Contagion, The Ocean's Trilogy, Out of Sight, King of the Hill and many other films and documentaries.
Fleishman, who produced Soderbergh's concert film about the group Yes in 1985, is a writer, producer, documentary journalist, and entrepreneur with a legal background who attended the York University Film School. Nominated for a Peabody award for his 13-hour CBC documentary series The Future of the Jews, Fleishman founded and became a principal owner of Command Post and Transfer Corp. Command Post was later acquired by Technicolor.
The Girlfriend Experience is produced by Transactional Pictures, which licensed the rights from the owner of the original feature film, Magnolia Pictures. Starz will retain all domestic multiplatform pay TV rights and serve as the worldwide distributor of all other rights to the series.