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CBS and Showtime split Saturday’s entry at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena — with the networks’ respective entertainment chiefs, Nina Tassler and David Nevins, adding a bit of swagger to the Langham Hotel ballroom and touting largely positive news.
CBS executive session: Reaffirming the network’s interest in another season of Two and a Half Men (with Angus T. Jones) and mentioning the final negotiations to bring back How I Met Your Mother for one last run, Tassler took a much more positive tone than TCA’s other broadcast toppers when talk turned to ratings. “We’re not a niche broadcaster,” she said. “For us it’s still about getting everybody. Our advertisers are very pleased with our 25-54 numbers as well.”
Golden Boy: “Pretty much every single thing that’s talked about in the pilot takes place in the series,” EP Nicholas Wootton said of his time-shifting midseason entry, which comes with at least a seven-season plan. “I certainly know where certain characters die… I know that [lead] Theo James‘ character does not die.”
The Job: Creator and EP Michael Davies said he got the idea for his post-recession employment challenge when his daughter mentioned that all of the graduating seniors at her expensive university were working as waiters. Fellow EP Mark Burnett noted that the optimistic tone is a departure from a lot of reality brethren: “America doesn’t want to see people ripped down.”
Grammys: After record-breaking ratings last year, the show’s producers announced a one-hour special documenting, among other things, how the Whitney Houston tribute came together. “I don’t want to say it unmasks everything, but it does take a look at everything you don’t get to see,” said EP Ken Ehrlich. As for this year, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow confirmed he has reached out to the Rolling Stones.
Elementary: When asked about the introduction of famous Sherlock Holmes nemesis Moriarty, executive producer Rob Doherty said the show is nearing a plan for casting. “We have a strong sense of what we want to do,” he told reporters. “As we get closer and closer to wrapping the season, there will be more serialization.” Doherty added that the recently wrapped post-Super Bowl episode will appeal to both the new audience and existing fans of the freshman drama.
Showtime executive session: Nevins, announcing a pilot and series order, spent much of his session discussing the unique position that Homeland‘s runaway success has put the network in. “You want to be the topic of conversation,” he said, noting that he thought the sophomore season began and ended strong — despite widespread criticism. He’s also very hopeful for the future: “Homeland could go in a lot of different directions, and it’s got a really long life.”
Showtime comedy panel: Cast members from the network’s Sunday lineup of Californication, House of Lies and Shameless talked about the tricky tone of their often dramatic shows. “We’re never going to be Parenthood,” said Emmy Rossum, with a shrug.
60 Minutes Sports: The recently launched news magazine, from the same team as the CBS weekly, got a boost in its first episode by breaking news that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong had donated $250,000 to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “We wanted the Lance Armstrong story badly,” said EP Jeff Fager, noting that the biker would never sit down to tell his side. “We’ve asked him every time, and he chose to go on Oprah.”
The Big C: Hereafter: Speaking of the upcoming end of their series, EP Jenny Bicks said the new hourlong format gave the dark Laura Linney comedy some wiggle room. “I don’t think any of us feel like the show changed its DNA. We found in the half-hour that we were having to rush moments,” said Bicks. “Now the comedy and drama have more time to breathe. It’s been easy for us to make the transition. It was a nice chance for us to put the show to bed.
Ray Donovan: Summer entry Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as a troubled, taciturn “fixer,” who remedies bad situations for the rich and famous. The actors said he was partially drawn to the role because of his overly wordy roles and long resume as a narrator. “The older I get, the more I look for less lines,” said Schreiber. “I think that’s what drew me to Ray as a character. He doesn’t talk much. It’s a nice quality.”
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