Starz's 'Outlander' to Premiere Online Early, Plus A '50 Shades of Grey' TV Series?

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Starz / EW

Fans of Diana Gabaldon's steamy sci-fi romance 'Outlander' have been eagerly anticipating the Starz adaptation due to premiere on August 9, but now the Ronald Moore drama will come a bit earlier than expected. And speaking of adult reading material, find out how close we came to having the '50 Shades of Grey' film instead tied up as a Starz TV series!

Starz's TCA press tour panel brought with it a few tantalizing tidbits of information, as the network revealed that the premiere episode of 'Outlander' will travel through time to an earlier August 2 release date online, with the series premiering on the network as scheduled August 9. Not only that, but it seems the first 16-episode season will be split into two, AMC-style, with the first eight consecutive Saturdays running through September 27, and the second half scheduled to continue sometime in early 2015.

For those unfamiliar with the series, ‘Outlander’ tells the story of married World War II combat nurse Claire (Caitriona Balfe), who accidentally steps back in time to the year 1743 where she is “immediately thrown into an unknown world of adventure that sends her on the run and threatens her life.” Claire is forced to marry a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior named Jamie (Sam Heughan), igniting a passionate affair that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

The ‘Outlander’ series of books have sold over 20 million copies with an eighth novel in the series that hit shelves in late 2013. But speaking of best-selling smut, did you know that Starz CEO Chris Albrecht lobbied Universal for the rights to a '50 Shades of Grey' TV series, looking to tell E.L. James' three Christian Grey novels as three separate seasons? Speaking from the panel, the executive revealed:

“If you read the [Outlander] book, this could only be a series. I’m the guy who called up Universal and said, ‘I’ll get you three years on the air as a series — let’s just do a Fifty Shades of Grey series.’ You don’t have to worry about box office, you don’t have to worry about a rating, you can tell the story the right way...but movie people think things should be movies, and authors think things should be movies. Because up until recently, movies have been the Tiffany jeweled crown. And certainly from what I see you people writing, that seems to be changing.

Hard to picture '50 Shades of Grey' ending up as a TV series for all its notoriety, but 'Outlander' certainly seems to be making the case that a wildly popular book series can be told just as well, and with enough fan attention on a more adult cable network, similar to the challenge once faced by HBO's 'Game of Thrones.'

We've included the 'Outlander' trailer below, but what say you? Are you looking forward to Ron Moore's adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's novels? Would you have been interested to see a '50 Shades of Grey' TV series instead of a movie?

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