Press Tour: July 2014 Showtime Executive Session Live-Blog
Up next in the never-ending series of TCA press tour live-blogs?
Showtime hasn't had an especially controversial or drama-filled year, but we're sure to have lots to discuss including the new season of "Homeland," series development and more.
1:45 p.m. David Nevins starts with pre-question updates. Eight of Showtime's nine shows got Emmy nominations. Showtime has 10 shows, but "Penny Dreadful" won't be eligible until next year. He notes that "Penny Dreadful" was the network's most-watched new show on OnDemand and ShowtimeAnytime. As was announced earlier, "Homeland" is back for 12 episodes on October 5. In case you've forgotten, "Homeland" hit ratings highs.
1:48 p.m. October 19 is the premiere date for "The Affair." That'll be paneling later today. It's not quite what I was expecting, which I mean in a good way. On November 1, Showtime will premiere the original doc "Lost Songs: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes Continues"
1:49 p.m. Showtime has three pilots, all mentioned previously: "Billions" comes from Andrew Ross Sorkin, Brian Koppleman and David Levien, with Gavin O'Connor directing. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" comes from Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna and Marc Web. And, of course, "Roadies" comes from Cameron Crowe, Winnie Holtzman and J.J. Abrams.
1:50 p.m. Was Nevins disappointed by "Masters of Sex" and "Ray Donovan" not growing season-to-season? Well, he says that if you include Live+3, both shows are nearly in line with last year's numbers. He calls "flat" an incredible achievement. They were both down in their Sunday live numbers, but they had growth OnDemand, apparently. Nevins reminds us that both shows had stronger lead-ins last year.
1:51 p.m. Nevins wouldn't compare "Roadies" to "Almost Famous," but he says there are "certain real similarities between the two." So... Yes. "I think there'll be a lot of 'Almost Famous' in it. Nothing would make me happier," he says. He loves the script, with a big ensemble. "I just feel like it's what he does best."
1:52 p.m. Is Showtime looking at more genre shows? "It was important to me to have a player back at Comic-Con," Nevins says, but he calls it "a deeply felt character show" more than a genre show. They wanted to do a horror/monster show with psychological depth, praising John Logan's soulfulness.
1:53 p.m. What's the status on "Happy-ish"? That's the Philip Seymour Hoffman pilot that is obviously in limbo. Nevins says they have five scripts. "If I can cast it the right way, it's something I will probably make," he says. [I already suggested Mark Ruffalo to Nevins in person.]
1:55 p.m. "There's an arbitrariness to all of it," Nevins says of Emmy classifications. "When they make a dramedy category, we're gonna try to do something different," he says. Of "Shameless," he says that John Wells always wanted it to be a comedy and he got it changed. He adds that Bill Macy thinks he's giving it a comedic performance. "It gives things to write about it, gives stuff to discuss and debate," he says.
1:56 p.m. What is the post-mortem on "Years of Living Dangerously" again? "I feel like that 10 hours was intended as a one-time event," he says. But he likes the approach they took, comparing it to "Time of Death." He says that this sort of deep-dive on difficult subject matter is something they can do on pay cable. He calls it "a real success." "I think it's an important document that will live on," Nevins says. He compares it to the much lighter "Inside Comedy," which he expects will be an important document of where we are in comedy. He's working on other things in that vein.
1:58 p.m. "There's no particular next project. I am in contact with him. I talk with him. I saw his play in New York. He's a very important alum that I want to stay close to, but nothing active going on," he says of future plans with Michael C. Hall.
1:59 p.m. Speaking of that... Did Showtime tell the "Dexter" showrunners they couldn't kill Dexter? "The only one who really wanted to die was David Duchovny," Nevins says of "Californication." Nevins insists that Dexter's death was never discussed with him. "It's always within the realm of possibility. It worked with Jack Bauer. It worked with the Bluth Family," Nevins says of future adventures for Dexter Morgan.
2:01 p.m. Is Showtime still interested in being part of a "Halo" series? He says the conversations are "ongoing." "If we can put all the pieces together, it's still something that's possible," Nevins says.
2:02 p.m. Does Showtime have any historical dramas in the pipeline? Nevins thinks "Penny Dreadful" is a historical drama. "Man, I get pitched a lot of them," he says. He thinks that "Penny Dreadful" will some of that, calling it essentially the show that replaced "Borgias," adding that it was 40 or 50 percent bigger than "Borgias." He notes that "Penny Dreadful" does well with different demographics, both the older female demo that watched "Borgias" and a younger audience.
2:05 p.m. Would "Happy-ish" get a direct-to-series order if Showtime can cast it properly? "Not necessarily. I have no hard and fast rules about that, but I wouldn't necessarily go straight to series," Nevins says.
2:05 p.m. Does Showtime want a "Fargo" or "True Detective"? He likes renewable resources. He isn't worried about the kind of actors they're getting for their regular series projects.
2:07 p.m. "I'm full of spoilers," Nevins says, asking us to ask for specifics. He's seen eight of 10 scripts for Season 2 of "Penny Dreadful."
2:08 p.m. Is "The Affair" an anthology or a close-ended story? "It's intended as an ongoing story," he says. The pilot has two time period. "At some point, the present can catch up to the future," he says. Nevins notes he's heard a four-or-five season arc for "The Affair." He compares "The Affair" to "Masters of Sex" in its ability to span time in the lives of the main characters. The first "Affair" season spans six months of time. "There's a lot of aspects to the show that you have to experience to get," Nevins says, praising its "intensity." TV is getting bigger and bigger, but "The Affair" is more of a close-up. [Like I mentioned above, it's not what you're thinking it is.] "There's a momentum, a lean-forward that you get from a good thriller," Nevins teases.
2:15 p.m. "It's a really big cosmology and it's gonna get bigger next year," Nevins teases of the upcoming "Penny Dreadful" season. Helen McCrory will be back next year as an antagonist. Ooooh. The first season's antagonist was less human and the second season will have a more human antagonist. "I swear. We're only just getting started," he says.
2:16 p.m. Showtime has done interesting things with sexuality and relationships in recent years. "I think it's really interesting that we can get into that certain side of humanity and human relationships," Nevins says. He references the erotic thriller subgenre from the '80s and '90s, though he says "The Affair" isn't exactly like those. It's about husband-wife relationships. The pilot was directed by Jeffrey Reiner and Nevins reminds us of the humanity and naturalism of "Friday Night Lights" as a comparison.
2:19 p.m. More on the Bob Dylan documentary, which finds a number of top-tier artists working with Dylan's lyrics to form new songs. "I want to get personality. I want to get depth of personality," Nevins says regarding what he'd be looking for in future music documentaries. They're going to have a regular Tuesday slot for a while.
2:21 p.m. What is Showtime's strategy for ending series? "It's one of the luxuries of where I sit. You're less buffeted by market forces," he says. "I make it very much in consort with the producers of the show and inevitably with the cast of the show," he notes. Conversations are generally had a year in advance or two years in advance. The network has a lot of young shows, for the most part, Nevins says. He offers no suggestions that anything else might be ending soon.
That's all, folks... Kobe Bryant next!