As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for Showtime, Entertainment President David Nevins took some time to talk about the network’s current and upcoming line-up. During the interview, he talked about how far into production their new horror series Penny Dreadful (from screenwriter John Logan) is in Ireland, what viewers can expect from their newest series, The Affair (with Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney and Josh Jackson and Happyish (with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Kathryn Hahn and Rhys Ifans), what fans can expect from Season 4 of Homeland, the criticism of Season 3, and what led to The Vatican not getting picked up. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DAVID NEVINS: On May 11th, we’re going to premiere our new horror series, Penny Dreadful. From deep in the brilliant imagination of John Logan, the great screenwriter of Gladiator, Hugo, The Aviator, Skyfall, and the next couple Bond films, this show is like nothing we’ve ever done before. Logan has written every word of it. Juan Antonio Bayona, the widely admired Spanish genre master, directed the first two episodes, and Sam Mendes is producing. We’re in the middle of production right now in Ireland.
What can you say about your upcoming series, The Affair and Happyish?
NEVINS: We have two new shows that we’re going to be adding to our schedule, in the coming months. The first one is a drama called The Affair, with the killer cast of Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney and Josh Jackson. One of the ideas behind The Affair was to counter the current trend of many premium dramas that are getting bigger and more lavish in size and scope because television has always been a great medium for close-up intimacy, too. The Affair is an intense exploration of two marriages, and the affair that disrupts them. With great acting and a very clever, deeply observed script by Sarah Treem, who created the show with Hagai Levi – they worked on In Treatment together – the show explores marriage, family and the challenges of fidelity, from multiple perspectives.
Our second new show, Happyish, is a very personal comedy starring one of the really great actors of our time, Oscar-winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Happyish is about the fear, in this world of 25-year-old CEOs and 27-year-old billionaires, of becoming culturally irrelevant at a surprisingly young age. Hoffman plays Thom Payne, a successful but self-loathing creative director at a New York ad agency, Kathryn Hahn is his artist wife, and Rhys Ifans is his boss and friend. The show is written by Shalom Auslander, who brings a scathing new voice to television.
NEVINS: We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about target demos. We program for adults. That show is an interesting combination. It’s a gorgeous script, and it’s a great adult drama. I think it will have male and female appeal. I think that particularly women will be fascinated by it. Actually, it looks at all the small nuances of relationships, from both the male and female perspective. Fundamentally, we program for adults. Some shows are more male and some shows are more female, but I want adults who can afford Showtime.
You had a fairly major resetting of things again at the end of this season of Homeland. What sorts of conversations have you had with Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa and the producing team about where it’s going to go from here?
NEVINS: Well, they’re deeply immersed right now. Obviously, there’s a big reset. I know that this is a show that is fundamentally about a field operative, and with the exception of the very beginning of Season 1 and the very end of Season 3, we haven’t seen her much out in the field, operating. So, the likely plan for next year is that you will see her on the ground in a foreign capital, doing her job. I haven’t had much presented yet, and those guys are working right now. They’re going to spend a week in Washington, and they’ve got an amazing itinerary. They’re being set up on the top floor of a CIA club, and they’re going to be spending a lot of time with real people. There are a couple of things that they’re working on, so we’ll see what comes back in a month.
What is your expectation for Mandy Patinkin’s involvement in Season 4 of Homeland?
NEVINS: My expectation is that he’ll be central. He’ll be important.
NEVINS: There are certain things that didn’t surprise me. I thought this season was pretty brilliant in its architecture. They started on this story about Iran and the audacity of regime change in Iran before Rouhani was even elected, and certainly before we knew about the talks that were going on between the Obama administration and Rouhani’s administration. So, I thought it was very clever and very audacious, what they set out to do. I thought it was a really interesting season. But, we always knew that we were heading to a major reset.
What led to The Vatican ultimately not getting picked up?
NEVINS: One of the fundamental issues with The Vatican is that the world changed on us. That show was conceived and written while Pope Benedict was still in charge of the Vatican, and it was conceived in a world that now would feel very dated. So, I’m glad we hadn’t made 13 episodes of that.