Under the direction of former HBO honcho Chris Albrecht, basic cable channel Starz has gone from a network that prompts the eternal question, “wtf is starz lol,” to being known as the place where history comes alive, then gets naked. Now Albrecht is looking to recapture some of the glory of his former home by remaking the R-rated Australian crime drama Underbelly, which has prompted outlets like Vulture to wonder whether Starz has finally “found its Sopranos.”
The original show, a fictionalized version of the Melbourne gangland war of 1995 to 2004, was a huge critical and commercial success overseas, and Albrecht is hoping he can recreate that here—although in spirit only. Acknowledging that he can’t simply transpose real-life Australian events to an American setting, Albrecht is reportedly researching various U.S. crime families with the hopes that he’ll find one that hasn’t already been mined to death by various Scorsese and Scorsese-lite films.
Naturally, he’s also avoiding New York and New Jersey entirely, so as to avoid any accusations of trying to replicate The Sopranos—which, like the original Underbelly, he totally is anyway, so he may as well own up to it, right? It’s not like anyone demands originality from their gangster stories. The Starz version of Underbelly could begin drawing comparisons to The Sopranos in every single review ever as early as next year.