Executive Quiz: What's the Difference Between a 'Miniseries,' 'Limited' or 'Event' Series?
Network chiefs including HBO's Michael Lombardo and ABC's Paul Lee weigh in on TV's new buzzwords.
This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
TV's new buzzwords: whatever makes a show seem special. NBC on Feb. 22 announced a Heroes "miniseries" with 13 episodes. FX's April debut Fargo is being called a "limited" series, like CBS' Under the Dome last summer -- until it was renewed. And Fox's 24: Live Another Day is an "event" series. Is there a difference?
➻ Michael Lombardo, HBO: It depends which Emmy category you can be competitive in. (Laughs.)
➻ David Nevins, Showtime: You forgot the other key [category]: "It's a miniseries -- oh wait, now it's a series."
➻ John Landgraf, FX: "Miniseries" is tainted. It became synonymous with this big, cheesy melodrama that would galvanize people back when the networks were in that business.
➻ Charlie Collier, AMC: Whatever Landgraf said.
➻ Eileen O'Neill, Discovery: "Limited" can be anywhere from three to eight episodes; it means it's not coming back. A miniseries tends to be three hours or three nights.
➻ Paul Lee, ABC: We're all using different terms for what is happening, which is the disruption of the established 22- to 24-episode run.
➻ Chris Albrecht, Starz: Shouldn't you ask the TV Academy? We'd like to know.
➻ Nina Tassler, CBS: It's a new incarnation; it can be anything from four to eight hours. It can be Under the Dome, which is a limited event series. It gives us a bigger canvas to play on.
➻ Mark Pedowitz, The CW: There is no difference. We just haven’t settled on a term. I think one of the reasons that I like to use limited series is I think miniseries is tainted.
➻ Susanne Daniels, MTV: Do we really think there's a difference?! There's not a difference. Maybe the difference is the amount of money that the network spends to market it.