Executive Quiz: What's the Difference Between a 'Miniseries,' 'Limited' or 'Event' Series?

Heroes Miniseries - H 2014

Heroes Miniseries - H 2014

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?

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? 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.

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? 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.