A&E

Portola Valley's Jim Kohlberg behind 'Outlander' TV series

By Kate Daly | Special to the Almanac


Jim Kohlberg
Portola Valley's Jim Kohlberg says he's excited to see positive reviews come out in the Wall Street Journal and Entertainment Weekly about his latest Hollywood project, "Outlander," a new TV series adapted from Diana Gabaldon's best-selling historic fantasy book with the same name.

The show is scheduled to premiere on the STARZ cable TV channel on Aug. 9.

Mr. Kohlberg is the executive producer. Ronald D. Moore, known for his work on "Battlestar Galactica," is serving as both executive producer and creator of "Outlander."

The story starts post-World War II with a British nurse mysteriously transported back in time to 1743 in the Scottish Highlands, where British soldiers are skirmishing with clansmen.

With a "strong woman character with a great love story, great romance ... plenty of bodices ripping," Mr. Kohlberg says, it's no wonder 80 percent of "Outlander" are females. "We're hoping the fan base will broaden" with the show, he says.

The popular author recently spoke at Foothill College to promote her eighth book about the same characters. Her first "Outlander" book came out in 1991.

"I had the rights for over five years and we tried to do it as a film," Mr. Kohlberg says, but it was "too tough to shoehorn 800 pages," so a TV series felt like a better fit.

"I feel really good about it," he says. "Each episode builds up and is better than the next."

Sixteen episodes are scheduled to air this season. "We're still filming the last couple of episodes in Scotland," he says.

It's too soon to tell whether there will be a second season.

The cast includes Irish actress Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Scotsman Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser.

Mr. Kohlberg produced and directed the 2011 film, "The Music Never Stopped." He is currently in pre-production on two films, "The Yellow Birds" and "Dial M for Murdoch," and he's developing some other TV series.

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