Back at TCA’s winter press tour, I sat down with Showtime Networks President David Nevins for an Adweek Q&A that I banked for April, closer to when his spring shows — particularly Showtime’s new comedy, Happyish — were premiering. As April approached, I made arrangements for a quick followup interview with Nevins, to update a few topics we had discussed, including Showtime’s OTT plans.
It’s either a negotiation, or he’s had cold feet. But I am hopeful.
In addition to our Twin Peaks talk, Nevins also gave me a timetable on when Showtime will launch its standalone streaming service, talked about sticking with Happyish after last year’s death of original star Philip Seymour Hoffman and explained why he’ll never leave for a broadcast job like his predecessor, Robert Greenblatt. It’s a great, and unexpectedly newsy, interview; check it out!
As reporters covering TCA winter press tour, we don’t clap or cheer for the panelists (which often confuses those who are used to being showered with applause when they walk on stage for a large audience), but I was sure tempted to break that rule when Kyle MacLachlan came out dressed as Agent Dale Cooper to announce that he had signed on to Showtime’s upcoming revival of Twin Peaks.
Now that the deal is clinched, Nevins says his job boils down to “more or less, writing checks and leaving them alone. It’s David’s show, it’s Mark’s show, I will be the grateful recipient of it,” he said. “I will say that they have been very specific in promising closure, and that’s exciting. … From what I’ve seen, this is going to live up to expectations and then some.”
Production will begin later this year, and while locations haven’t been finalized, “I hope to go back to Washington,” where the series was shot, said Nevins.
Read the rest of the story for much more on how Nevins sealed the deal with Lynch, and why Twin Peaks represents an anomaly for Showtime.
This year, instead of making resolutions for the entire industry to follow, I created specific ones for the industry’s major players. For example, for Hulu:
Hulu: Don’t get left in the dust by Netflix and Amazon
In 2014, Hulu made some big moves to try and stay in the race with Netflix and Amazon, including an $80 million-plus deal acquiring the rights to all seasons of South Park and ordering three new series produced by the likes of J.J. Abrams, Jason Reitman and Amy Poehler. But those new shows, and South Park, need to deliver, and make Hulu a worthy streaming competitior. Oh, and Hulu, you know how you’ve been considering cutting back the number of ads running on Hulu Plus? Do that. Immediately.
I hope my 2015 resolutions fare as well as the 2014 ones did!
Homeland. The Good Wife. The Affair. The Walking Dead. Mad Men. Masters of Sex. Veep. Game of Thrones. When you think of the best (and most Emmy-nominated) shows on TV, almost all of them air on Sunday nights. As I wrote at Quartz,
It seems counterintuitive to pit all of TV’s best series against one another, as anyone who’s tried to program a DVR on Sundays can attest. But there is in fact a method to the networks’ madness, and five reasons why Sunday night’s quality TV overload exists—and won’t be going away anytime soon.
Through Nielsen numbers crunching (charts!), research and a great chat with Showtime Network President David Nevins, I came up with five very strong reasons — some of which surprised even me. Here’s one: airing on Sunday night is more important than being watched on Sunday night.
While many of the Sunday shows have drawn record audiences as mentioned above, it’s also true that premium cable networks like HBO and Showtime aren’t beholden to advertisers. So those executives don’t have the expectation or urgency that viewers need to tune in “live” during their shows’ initial Sunday night airing. “I always say, it doesn’t matter to me whether you watch it on Sunday; I’m fine if you want to want until Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Nevins. “You wait much past then, you’re going to miss the conversation.”
It’s happening, again! Showtime announced it is reviving Twin Peaks as a nine-episode limited series, airing in 2016. While many people spoke with co-creator Mark Frost about how his and David Lynch’s decision to return to the show, I took a different approach, talking with Showtime execs for this Quartz story about why this made sense for the network.
“In some ways, Twin Peaks was the precursor to all of the high-quality, provocative serialized drama that we all do now,” Gary Levine, Showtime’s executive vice president of original programming, told Quartz. “So to go back to the OG of provocative, serialized drama seemed like a no-brainer. Twin Peaks always did and always will define cool, and that was just too tempting to turn away from.”
There’s lots more from Levine and Showtime Networks President David Nevins about how they’ll avoid the train wreck that was Season 2, how much they know about the new season and whether there could be more stories to tell beyond those nine episodes.
I’m still reeling from the news that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead yesterday from an apparent drug overdose. As I wrote at Quartz, what might have been his best performance yet was still to come: in an upcoming Showtime comedy series, Happyish.
Last month, Showtime treated reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour to footage from Happyish, which the network had just officially picked up to series. In the clips screened from the pilot episode, reporters and critics were laughing at the exploits of Hoffman, who played a bitter creative director at a New York City ad agency dealing with a new boss half his age. The footage promised yet another classic Hoffman performance, with a profane rant against social media and an uproarious hallucination involving a Keebler Elf. And even though only the pilot episode had been shot, with a likely series debut set for summer, many in the room—myself included—were already predicting that Hoffman would be making room on his mantle for Emmys, Golden Globes and SAG Awards for his Happyish role.
Those of us lucky enough to see that footage at TCA will always wonder what might have been. RIP, Philip Seymour Hoffman.