Press Tour Live-Blog: David Nevins on the State of Showtime

07.30.13 4 years ago 9 Comments


An airplane flew back and forth and back and forth over the Television Critics Association press tour lunch on Tuesday (July 30). The plane dragged a banner urging Showtime Entertainment President David Nevins to reconsider the cancellation of “The Borgias.”

Will he reconsider? Probably not! 

Will he be asked about “The Borgias” at his executive session? Probably!

Click through for the full live-blog.

1:30 p.m. Let’s go!

1:33 p.m. Showtime gets not one, but two sizzle reels before the Nevins panel. So much sizzle.

1:36 p.m. Nevins begins. Showtime has hit the 23 million subscriber mark. They were at 18 million when Nevins arrived. He’s pleased with the diversity of the Showtime schedule in terms of genre. They’ve successfully launched “Ray Donovan.” It was already renewed, of course. “Dexter” is ending its run with its highest ratings ever. Scott Buck, the showrunner on “Dexter,” has signed an overall deal to remain in the Showtime family.

1:39 p.m. As of today, subscribers can watch East and West Coast feeds on Showtime Anytime. I can also do that on my TV.

1:39 p.m. “Episodes” will be back in January, premiering on January 12 along with “House of Lies” and “Shameless.” “Californication” will air in the spring paired with the sixth season of “Nurse Jackie.” “Penny Dreadful” begins production in October and should premiere next spring. John Logan has written all eight episodes. Josh Hartnett and Eva Green will lead the cast of “Penny Dreadful.”

1:41 p.m. Clip of “Years of Living Dangerously.”

1:44 p.m. “Time of Death” is a docu-series that will premiere in November, focusing on people in the last days of their life. It’s from the Magical Elves team.

1:45 p.m. Philip Seymour Hoffman will star in the comedy pilot “Trending Down.” Nevins calls it “the sharpest comedy cast I’ve read in ages.”

1:46 p.m. As we knew, Dominic West is playing the male lead in the drama pilot “The Affair.” Ruth Wilson will play the female lead. Excellent!

1:46 p.m. They’re finishing up the pilot for “The Vatican,” starring Kyle Chandler and directed by Ridley Scott.

1:47 p.m. First question: Nevins promises more announcements will come on “Penny Dreadful” soon. Hartnett will play an American “fake cowboy.” Nevins teases only that Green will play “Vanessa.” [I’ll write a story about this after the panel.]

1:49 p.m. Here we go: What happened with “The Borgias”? “We looked hard at doing a two-hour finale. The economics of it just didn’t make sense, so we didn’t move forward. I think it came to a good stopping place at the end of Season 3,” Nevins says. “I feel bad about the money being spent,” Nevins says of the plane. He refers to encountering “a paid protestor” outside the hotel. Hmmm.

1:51 p.m. The viewership trend on Showtime is up, as we know. “Ray Donovan” is running ahead of both seasons of “Homeland.” “Our stuff feels like it’s having more and more impact and not less and less,” Nevins says. “There’s still room to grow and fortunately we’ve been on a pretty steady growth-path,” he says. 

1:53 p.m. Question about “Penny Dreadful” and whether Showtime will entertain more “genre” development. “It’s always a case-by-case basis,” Nevins says, adding that it’s all about a “broad portfolio.” “We’re trying to do stuff that’s got depth and psychology and I find ‘Penny Dreadful’ to be a totally fascinating subject,” he says. He praises John Logan for the breadth of scripts he’s written, saying Logan has been obsessed with this idea since he was young. “We’re not going to be gentle with the horror,” Nevins promises, referencing Juan Antonio Bayonna’s horror credentials from “The Orphanage.”

1:55 p.m. Is adult-themed late-evening content still part of Showtime’s future? He calls “Gigolos” a “completely fascinating” show and says that the late-night content is part of his profile.

1:56 p.m. A Netflix question. Nevins says that Showtime’s model offers the best of both worlds and that Showtime users can binge watch if they want. But he calls out Netflix for the lack of ratings information, saying “Who knows who’s watching what?” He adds, “It feels like television, and premium television, in particular is really one of the creatively vital places in the entertainment universe,” he says. Nevins praises the week-to-week distribution model. “I feel like there’s really smart work that gets done in this room,” he says of weekly recapping.

1:58 p.m. I’m not going to say anything about this “Homeland” question. No desire to spoil things. “You can’t keep it the same dynamic and you have to be willing to shake it up,” Nevins says of “Homeland.” “I’ve never been scared of change,” Nevins says, referencing his time at Imagine and huge cast changes at “Friday Night Lights.” No more spoilers.

2:02 p.m. Is there a saturation point at which Showtime worries about the ability to launch shows? “I gotta take risks and not try to copy what’s worked for you before,” he says. He says that the key is not to get caught in “boxes of sameness.” He references “Penny Dreadful” as “a true monster show” and teases that the monsters won’t look like the pictures we have in our minds of Dracula and Frankenstein. Showtime has 10 or 11 scripted dramas or comedies and they’re replacing them at a rate of two or three per year. 

2:04 p.m. Would Showtime ever consider an a la carte streaming option? “It would be premature to talk about that. It’s out there somewhere in the future,” he says, but he adds that the focus for now is on availability of Showtime Anytime.

2:05 p.m. What Showtime programs get big OnDemand or Anytime bounces? Nevins says that for Showtime, the shows with more female audiences like “Nurse Jackie” and “Big C” tend to be their most time-shifted shows. 

2:06 p.m. How will they maximize viewership on the global warming doc “Years of Living Dangerously”? He says that Showtime will be spending a lot of money on it and he praises the work that Jim Cameron and his team are doing on the scope of the series. “I think it’s a show that should have big impact,” he says.

2:09 p.m. Is “Masters of Sex” intended to skew more male or female? In his unscientific polling, Nevins says it has “a slightly female tilt,” but adds that the reaction is really balanced. 

2:10 p.m. How will Showtime promote the finale of “Dexter”? “I believe that the ‘Dexter’ finale will sort of promote itself,” he says, adding that spoilers won’t be necessary.

2:11 p.m. Does he foresee a future drama focusing on a character as far outside of the norm as “Dexter”? “Probably,” Nevins says. He tries insisting that Ray Donovan is a character who is trying to be more of a traditional hero than an anti-hero. 

2:14 p.m. Is there any “Dexter” spinoff possibility anymore? “Of course. We announced a deal with Scott Buck today. Draw your own conclusions,” Nevins says. Oh. OK.

That’s all, folks…

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