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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Crash," the racially charged drama that won the Oscar for best picture of 2005, is coming to the small screen later this year as a TV series for the Starz network, the pay cable channel said on Monday.
The film's director, co-writer and producer, Paul Haggis, will lead the show's creative team as executive producer along with actor Don Cheadle, who starred in and shared a producer credit on the movie.
Starz programming executive Stephan Shelanski said there is a "strong possibility" that Cheadle will reprise his film role as a police detective for the "Crash" TV series, which he said would basically pick up where the film left off.
The series will begin shooting this spring and is expected to premiere as early as August 2008, Shelanski said. The premium cable channel, owned by John Malone's Liberty Media Corp, has ordered 13 one-hour episodes to start.
"Crash," a relatively small-budget movie, was released by Lionsgate Entertainment in 2005 and explored ethnic and racial tensions in urban America through a series of interwoven storylines and characters, with several ironic twists. Lionsgate will co-produce the TV show.
The new project would mark only the second time a best film Oscar winner has been made into a TV series. The first was the 1967 film "In the Heat of the Night," another movie with strong racial themes that debuted as a CBS drama two decades later.
In addition to its Academy Award for best picture, "Crash" earned an Oscar for original screenplay, shared by Haggis and Bobby Moresco, who also is an executive producer for the show.
Shelanski said he expected Cheadle to be instrumental in recruiting some of his "Crash" movie co-stars to join the TV series, at least for the first episode or two. Cheadle also helped line up much of the movie's cast.
The movie's all-star ensemble also included Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton and Ryan Philippe.
"We're just going to rely on the strength of the material and the relationship that Don Cheadle and Paul Haggis had to get the original cast involved," Shelanski said. "We're talking to everybody. We would love to have as many of the cast members from this film as possible reprise their roles."
No casting choices have been made, but Shelanski said the producers were disinclined to bring back a movie character unless the actor or actress in that role could do the show.
In a statement, Cheadle said the TV series "will present an opportunity to delve into many subjects, not just race relations in L.A."
The show is the first original drama series produced by Starz, which was formed as a movie channel but began branching out into new content with the launch of two original half-hour comedies last week -- "Head Case" and "Hollywood Residential."