Starz to develop US version of Underbelly

US cable network Starz is developing a local version of hit Australian crime series Underbelly.

The network, which is run by former HBO boss Chris Albrecht, acquired the US rights to the series from UK distributor DRG and is looking to develop a US version.

The series, which is based on the book Leadbelly: Inside Australia’s Underworld, by John Silvester and Andrew Rule and follows sordid crime groups in Melbourne, aired on Nine Network. Three series have been produced by local indie Screentime.

“It’s a development project, one we’re excited about, but we’re excited about a lot of projects,” a Starz spokesman told TBIvision.

The original Australian series has aired in the United States on DirecTV’s The101 channel.

Starz has ramped up its original programming slate in recent months with a number of high profile series announced including its acquisition of Tandem Communications’ The Pillars of the Earth, commissioning GK-TV to produce 10-part drama Camelot, its co-funding of BBC sci fi drama Torchwood as well as two projects – William the Conqueror and Peacekeeper – in development with Ben Silverman’s production company Electus.

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