“Outlander” a Best Bet for Starz and Fans

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“Outlander” is a new series headed to Starz next month, which is based on a successful, eight-book series by American author Diana Gabaldon. The series is based on the story of British Army nurse Clare Randall, who reunited with her husband, Frank, after WWII. But then she falls into 18th century Scotland and the arms of the charming Scot, Jamie Fraser.

When Starz and Sony Pictures Television announced the series in June 2013, Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore thought he’d have a tough time casting Jamie.

“We thought we’d cast Claire easily,” Moore said. “She’s a sort of a modern character and it was exactly the opposite. But, we cast Jamie early. So, he was the first one.”

Fans seem to be thrilled with Sam Heughan playing Jamie, and it’s easy to see why. Author, and now paid consultant to the series, Gabaldon says “They sort of want to lick [Jamie].” No doubt Heughan is lickable, especially since making a habit of donning filming fashion-essential kilts off stage.

Gabaldon had some fun with the announcement of finally casting Claire back in September. She tweeted that there was some casting news coming by nightfall and Twitter and Facebook went crazy with anticipation. Despite the promise, everyone waited another two days to hear the news that Caitriona Balfe, an Irish model turned actress, landed the part.

“It was a long search to find Claire,” Moore said. “But, it was the same kind of moment when casting Sam. We saw Caitriona’s tape and we thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s Claire.’ So, it all kind of fell together.”

Thankfully, fans fell in love with her immediately. Gabaldon says the second she saw Balfe on screen, she knew.

Balfe had no idea what she was getting into when she was hired.

“I was a very sparse user of Twitter,” Balfe said. “I had 280 followers at the time, which I thought was a lot. And overnight, I think I had three, four thousand and it just kept going and going. So, I was like, ‘What is this?’ And my friends who were on Facebook and all that told me there are all these video blogs of the announcement, commenting on it. That to me is really exciting, to be part of something that people love.”

Of course, the biggest concern with any book-turned-series is the storyline. According to multiple sources, including Gabaldon, “Outlander” is true to the page.

“I’ve been flabbergasted at how well it’s going,” Gabaldon said. “I’m not expecting a literal page-by-page interpretation. I don’t think that would make a good show. From what I’ve seen, this will be very well-received.”

In a move that’s thrilled fans, the first episode will be available online on August 2, a full week before the August 9 premiere date. There are 16 episodes slated for the first season, with eight airing this year and the next eight running in early 2015.

Photo: Starz
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