Showtime will ramp up its slate of high-definition offerings this year by presenting six original series — including Queer as Folk and The Chris Isaak Show
— and a variety of telepics in the new format, network officials said.
"Our strategy from day one has been to provide as much programming as possible in HD," said Glenn Oakley, Showtime's senior vice president of corporate strategy and international. "Our goal is to stay ahead of the curve."
In addition to returning series Queer as Folk
and The Chris Isaak Show ,
Showtime will produce new episodes of Jeremiah
in the HD format, as well as the new shows Earthlings
and Dead Like Me,
and the limited series Out of Order.
To date, Showtime has offered only one series, Odyssey 5, in HD, said Oakley. That Columbia TriStar Domestic Television production is still on the air, but has not been renewed by the network.
In addition, this year most of Showtime's original movies will air in HDTV, including Stealing Sinatra, Out of the Ashes, Good Fences, The Maldonado Miracle, Coast to Coast, Spinning Boris
and Soldier's Girl.
Actress Salma Hayek, who directed and executive produced The Maldonado Miracle,
pushed to have the movie produced in HD, according to Showtime.
Whether or not a producer wants a particular program to be shot in HDTV is typically "a creative decision," Oakley said. Columbia TriStar didn't choose to produce its Showtime series Street Time
in the new HDTV format because it wanted the series to have a gritty look.
In the third and fourth quarters of last year, more than half of Showtime's primetime programming was in HD, in compliance with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell's recommendations, according to Oakley.
This year's new HD programming will drive up that percentage of HD content, but Oakley said he couldn't calculate an exact figure until the shows are actually scheduled.
Showtime this year will also produce its first live event in HDTV — the Feb. 22 heavyweight boxing match between "Iron" Mike Tyson and Clifford Etienne.
"Sports and movies are the two kinds of content that are ideally suited to this format," Oakley said.
Showtime offers two HDTV feeds, which are available to more than 30 million homes via Charter Communications Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc., DirecTV Inc., EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network and Time Warner Cable.