‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ TV Show: E.L. James Books Previously Pitched To Become Starz Series

“Fifty Shades of Grey” debuts in theaters this February, but according to new reports, the E.L. James series’ adaptation almost didn't make it to the silver screen.

During a panel for the Starz network at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Friday, the network’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, revealed that James’ best-selling erotica book series was previously under discussion to become a TV series. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Albrecht, 61, pitched plans to make the trilogy a three-season-long show ahead of Universal’s creation of the motion picture adaptation.

“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.’ But movie people think things are movies, and authors think things are movies. Up until recently, movies were the Tiffany jewel in the crown,” Albrecht asserted when discussing the network’s adaptation of Diana Galbaldon’s novel “Outlander.”

While Universal did not take the network up on its offer to bring the S&M tale to the small screen (The film is set to debut in the U.S. Feb. 13, 2015), Albrecht said the studio executives did give the idea serious consideration. “I know the people who run the place over there,” he said. “They were very nice to listen to me.”

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” penned by James originally as a “Twilight” fan fiction in 2011, follows BDSM-practicing billionaire Christian Grey and his lover, Anastasia “Ana” Steele. The film, which wrapped production in Vancouver, Canada, in February, stars Jamie Dornan (“Once Upon a Time,” “The Fall” ) and fellow TV star Dakota Johnson of the now-cancelled “Ben and Kate” as the leads.

James, 51, announced via social media Wednesday that after much speculation, Universal will release the first official trailer for the film on July 24. The studio first revealed footage of the feature at CinemaCon in March. According to attendees, the clips, described as an extended trailer, were “'Twilight'-esque.”

“I don’t want to use the words 'sappy' and 'cheesy.' It looked like ‘Twilight’ with S&M in it,” ZBoneMan.com reporter Sheldon Demke said via a YouTube review. “It’s not going to be a good movie, but it’s going to do very well.”

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