While at the Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, President of Entertainment David Nevins discussed the status of both their current shows and their upcoming projects. During the interview, he talked about what people can expect from the upcoming drama series Penny Dreadful, from John Logan and Sam Mendes, the upcoming series The Affair (with Dominic West and Ruth Wilson) and The Vatican (with Kyle Chandler), why a two-hour finale for The Borgias wasn’t able to happen, the future of Homeland, and the possibility of a Dexter spin-off. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DAVID NEVINS: Penny Dreadful begins production of its eight episodes this October. We expect to have it on the air as soon as next spring. I’m so excited about this psychological horror series, from John Logan and Sam Mendes, who are teaming up again for the next James Bond film. Logan has already written all eight hours, and we secured Juan Antonio Bayona, the wonderful director of The Impossible and The Orphanage, to direct. I’m very happy to be able to announce what is shaping up to be a pretty remarkable cast, with Josh Hartnett and Eva Green, and more high-profile names are expected to be named soon.
What can you say about the characters that Josh Hartnett and Evan Green are playing? And are you thinking of casting well-known actors for Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and such?
NEVINS: There will be more announcements. I can’t say anything more today. But, what Josh Hartnett plays is an American fake cowboy. He’s in turn-of-century London, where American cowboy shows were very popular. He impresses the London society women. There’s an intense dark side to his character that I’m going to wait until January to give you more details about. I don’t want to say too much about Penny Dreadful because John Logan is extremely protective about it. And Eva Green plays Vanessa, who is the fulcrum of the show.
Does the performance of Penny Dreadful dictate whether or not Showtime will entertain more genre development, or do you take it on a case-by-case basis?
NEVINS: It’s always a case-by-case basis. I’m trying really hard to offer a broad portfolio of programming. We have all sorts of different kinds of dramas. And whether Penny Dreadful works or not, I don’t think it means it’s going to tell the tale of the future of genre programming on our air. We’re trying to do stuff that’s got depth and psychology. I find Penny Dreadful to be a totally fascinating project. It’s got one of the great writers working in Hollywood. Logan wrote Gladiator, Hugo and Skyfall, and he just wrote the Bette Midler play that was on Broadway this winter. This is a show that he’s been obsessed with since he was 13 years old. And it’s an interesting mix of genres because it’s really literary horror. It’s really smart and psychological, but we’re not going to be gentle with the horror. We hired a true horror master director. If anybody has seen The Orphanage, Bayona is a great horror technician, as well as being a great actor’s director. I think it’s going to scare the shit out of people, and be really creepy and interesting. I have high hopes. I think it will resonate with people who are watching Homeland and Ray Donovan, which are more today’s social realism.
NEVINS: Earlier this year, we announced that Golden Globe-nominee Dominic West, of The Wire, was cast as the male lead. Playwright Sarah Treem wrote this original script, with Hagai Levi. They first worked together on the American adaptation of Hagai’s show In Treatment. This project is an intense and intimate exploration of two marriages and the affair that disrupts them. And we’ve set Ruth Wilson, who you know from her roles on Luther, BBC’s Jane Eyre and The Lone Ranger, for the female lead. We’re finishing up casting on that project, and there will be more announcements shortly.
Where are things at with The Vatican?
NEVINS: We’re finishing up the pilot, which was shot in Rome. It’s starring Kyle Chandler in his return to television as New York’s Archbishop Thomas Duffy. The show has an incredible pedigree with Paul Attanasio writing the script, Ridley Scott directing his first-ever TV pilot, and a fantastic cast that includes Golden Globe-nominee Anna Friel, Matthew Goode, Sebastian Koch, Bruno Ganz and Ewen Bremner.
What exactly happened with The Borgias?
NEVINS: We looked hard at doing a two-hour finale, but the economics of it just didn’t make sense, so we didn’t move forward. I think it came to a good stopping place, at the end of Season 3.
NEVINS: You can’t keep it the same dynamic. You have to be willing to change it up. There’s no question which master you’re trying to serve, but I’ve never been scared of change. It’s about, “Are you going to love the show without the characters who you loved initially?” You will start to fall in love with other characters, and new, great actors will turn up. Seasons 1 and 2 were really founded on the fulcrum of trust and mistrust between Brody and Carrie. That still exists in Season 3, but the characters are extremely estranged. They don’t know what the other is doing. There’s all sorts of poles that this show exists on. You want Carrie to be a strong, competent action heroine, but you also want her to deal with her vulnerabilities and her unstable mental condition. You’ve got to go back and forth. You lean one direction for a while, and then you go in the other direction. I want our producers to take risks. It’s not about resetting back to the beginning, at the end of every episode. You move forward and you take risks. Sometimes you get beat up for them, but the enemy of good television is boredom and predictability.
Is there still the possibility of a Dexter spin-off?
NEVINS: Of course. We announced a deal with (executive producer) Scott Buck today, so draw your own conclusions.