Dixon to drive Starz' domestic distribution


Starz Media is expanding its domestic TV distribution efforts, hiring Alecia Dixon as vice president of domestic television sales. Dixon initially will aim her efforts at domestic cable networks.

Dixon, a UCLA graduate, most recently served as SVP of international pay television and digital media at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she oversaw MGM’s international pay television licensing business. Dixon worked her way up at MGM, starting as executive director and then becoming VP of worldwide pay television.

Starz has been selling some of its original content domestically and internationally for almost two years now. In January 2008, Starz hired Gene George to head up worldwide distribution (see the Fifth Estater in this week’s magazine), marketing and selling the company’s original series, movies and animated products worldwide.

This might all come as a surprise, if you, like me prior to writing this post, only thought of Starz as a collection of movie channels that live in the 500 section of your electronic program guide. Turns out, that thinking is so 2005.

Liberty Media-owned Starz Media has been quietly undergoing a massive expansion while the rest of us were busy panicking about the state of the TV business. And because Liberty is still owned by cable cowboy John Malone, who apparently loves to take simple corporations and make their structure as complicated as possible, figuring out what all Starz actually owns feels something like using my spare time to solve calculus equations. On closer look, however, George and Dixon have plenty on their plate.

Premium movie network Starz has been headed in the direction of HBO and Showtime, producing and airing original series such as Crash, Head Case and the upcoming Spartacus: Blood and Sand, starring Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess fame. Starz got some buzz last spring with Party Down, the next effort from producer Rob Thomas after UPN’s critically acclaimed Veronica Mars. And like the major TV studios, Starz Productions produces content both for itself and other networks, such as the series Painkiller Jane for SyFy.

Beyond those efforts, Starz owns a film production and distribution company: Overture Films, which has several star-studded theatrical films on its roster: Law Abiding Citizen, starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx; Pandorum, starring Dennis Quaid  and Ben Foster; Righteous Kill, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino; Traitor, starring Don Cheadle. It also owns second windows for Mad Money, starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes and Nothing Like the Holidays, starring John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodriguez, Debra Messing and Albert Molina.

Starz also owns an animation studio, Film Roman, which produces animation for The Simpsons, King of the Hill, specials and direct-to-DVD movies; and home video and DVD company Anchor Bay Entertainment (formerly IDT Entertainment).