TCA 2012: Showtime Chief on 'Homeland,' 'Dexter' and Violence on TV
David Nevins trotted out on stage Monday afternoon to peddle a bigger, broader and more “unexpected” Showtime.
Two years into his gig as entertianment president, Nevins used his platform before the Television Critics Association' semi-annual press tour audience to beat his chest about the premium network's recent performance. In addition to a growing subscriber base, which is now approaching 22 million, the accolades include Emmy nominations -- 22 in total, for eight out of the 11 eligible shows -- and the distinction of having President Obama's favorite show on its lineup in Homeland.
Here’s a look at the many topics Nevins touched on during his half-hour before the press:
For those looking to see Nevins’ stamp on the cable net, watch for his series and their characters to make “unexpected choices.” In fact, he said he's constantly challenging his showrunners to “keep the audience off balance by making unpredictable choices... because as soon as you get predictable, you get boring.” He offered Homeland as an example of a series that doesn’t “wait too long” or become “predictable,” as evidenced by the decision to have the show’s co-stars sleep together not in the season finale, but rather in episode six. Same goes for the finale episode, in which the scene involving Brody’s vest -- and, more poignantly, whether it will or will not detonate -- happens with 40 minutes left in the episode, as opposed to in the final frame.
The Uncertainty of Homeland
After airing a well-received trailer for season two, Nevins reminded reporters seated before him just how successful Homeland has been since it bowed last October, ticking off accolades including Emmy nominations (nine in total), a Golden Globe best drama award and a Peabody. But just because the network chief has high hopes that the CIA thriller will continue for many seasons, it doesn’t mean all of the characters will continue with it. “Anybody can go at any time,” he allowed, adding: “They’ve made some very bold choices this year.”
With the recent Colorado massacre fresh in peoples’ minds, the network chief is asked to comment on the violence -- and the responsibility of airing such violence -- of his series’ in particular. “I’m very comfortable with what we put on the air, but that’s a subject of conversation of everything we put on,” he said, noting that a series like serial killer drama Dexter is a “psychological show” and “it’s very hard to see a direct causal connection.”
Docs, Specials & More
In Nevins' bid for cultural relevancy, he continues to add more provocative documentaries to the net's collection, which will now fall under the "Close Up" banner. In addition to upcoming entries on Dick Cheney and Suge Knight, he announced a music mogul Tommy Mottola doc, which will be helmed by Brett Ratner. The latter will explore a 30-year career that involved such musicians as Jennifer Lopez, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and John Mellencamp. Showtime will also add a comedy special, entitled Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion & Sex, featuring the Daily Show correspondent. The project, from Larry Wilmore and Jeff Stilson, will air Aug. 25th, timed to coincide with the political conventions. As Nevins sees it, the special is a potential "springboard" for a series.
The Big C & Dexter Bid Farewell
Laura Linney's critical darling will come back for one fourth and final season, which will include four hour-long episodes. "It's very important with a premium network that shows be able to plan their end and do it the right way. We have a contract with our audience," he said of allowing his showrunners to end on their terms. As for Dexter, Nevins remains unwilling to put the word “final” on the long-running drama, though “the plan” remains to have the Michael C. Hall vehicle wrap up after two more seasons. “I would be stupid to not leave the door open,” he said.
The Future of Episodes &The Borgais
Nevins’ intention is “to keep going” with Matt LeBlanc' Episodes, which he acknowledges has a somewhat “irregular” schedule care of the all-encompassing involvement of its creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. With regard to The Borgias, the initial plan was to do a four season run, but that could always change. The costume drama, which is currently filming its third season, has not yet been renewed for a fourth; and Nevins said he's not entirely sure he won’t want a fifth.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose