While at Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, President David Nevis took some time to talk about new and returning programming. During the interview, he spoke about their new comedy pilots, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (directed by Mark Webb) and Roadies (from Cameron Crowe and J.J. Abrams), Penny Dreadful season 2 and how it will have a human antagonist, the status of Happyish (the series starring that Philip Seymour Hoffman), what the real reason was behind the choice for the ending of Dexter and the possibility of the show returning, how long The Affair could run, and how he’d still like to do a Halo series. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DAVID NEVINS: Our two comedy pilots are Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Roadies. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a change of pace for us. It’s a pilot with musical elements from Rachel Bloom, a young comedienne and an actress who we think is ready to break out, and Aline Brosh McKenna, who has been responsible for writing a number of comedy hit films, including The Devil Wears Prada. Mark Webb, who directed The Amazing Spider-Man and (500) Days of Summer, will direct. The project centers on Bloom’s character, a successful partner in a Manhattan law firm who impulsively gives up everything to chase her ex-boyfriend to that well-known hotbed of sex and romance, known as West Covina, California.
And Roadies is a comedy that follows the day-to-day life of a successful rock tour, as seen through the eyes of its crew. The creative minds behind this project are a dream team. One of my all-time film heroes, Cameron Crowe, is writing and directing. The creator of My So-Called Life and Wicked, Winnie Holzman, is the showrunner, and the prolific and talented J.J. Abrams is executive producing with his Bad Robot team.
Will Crazy Ex-Girlfriend be filmed in West Covina?
NEVINS: It’s gonna shoot in the fall, and it will shoot significantly in West Covina. I’ve never been there myself, but my sons played baseball there. Why West Covina? It was a source of fascination to Aline and Rachel for its mini-mallishness and big box stores. It seemed like an unlikely place that we would leave a big job in Manhattan to go to, and it’s very specific in its locations. They deal with certain iconic places in West Covina.
NEVINS: I wouldn’t say that. However, I just re-watched Almost Famous, and there are certain real similarities between the two. Obviously, it’s a world that Cameron knows incredibly well, and he has enormous affection for, so I think there will be a lot of Almost Famous in it, and nothing would make me happier. That movie holds up so well. It’s a blue collar vibe of a roadie crew, which is something that Cameron loves and has got a lot to say about. And I just love the script. It’s a big ensemble with a lot of really memorable characters, and I just feel like it’s what he does best.
With the success of Penny Dreadful, are you looking at more genre shows?
NEVINS: Yeah. With Penny Dreadful, it was important to me to have a player back at Comic-Con. I think Penny Dreadful is so much more than a genre show. It is, in its core, a really deeply felt character show. But, I’ll look at other things. I don’t feel like, because that is really working, that we’re going to start moving only down that path, but I think it’s been really fun. The important thing was to find a way to do a horror show and a monster show that felt like it had the psychological depth and richness of character that you expect from us. John Logan is a pretty deeply soulful guy, and that soulfulness is really what makes that show tick.
NEVINS: It’s a really big cosmology, and it’s going to get bigger next year. There are four characters in the middle – Sir Malcolm, Vanessa, Ethan and Dr. Frankenstein. Those characters will remain in the middle, but there’s a great antagonist for next year, which is going to be played by Helen McCrory, who you saw introduced this year, but there are things that will be revealed about her character. She was very deliberately planted this year to become the Season 2 antagonist. The Season 1 antagonist was an inhuman character. I think it’s going to be good for the storytelling and the characters to have a more human antagonist. Maybe four years down the road, you can spin something off, but I like its sprawlingness. That’s what’s fun about it. It’s a show that you can crawl inside of, and then just live there. We’re only just getting started. There are so many places. Season 1 spent a lot of time just bringing characters on screen and touching on them. Season 2 will really be about deepening those relationships, and the complications between the characters.
What’s the status on Happyish?
NEVINS: It’s essentially the same status. We’re just six months further away from the tragic news. But I now am sitting on five scripts from that I think are brilliant, so if I can cast it the right way, it’s something I will probably make, but there are no guarantees. It’s got to be perfectly put together.
NEVINS: I have no hard-and-fast rules about that. I wouldn’t necessarily go straight to series.
The showrunners of Dexter said that they’d been told by Showtime that they couldn’t kill Dexter at the end of the series, which is why he survived. Is that true?
NEVINS: It’s actually not true. It was never even discussed with me. No one ever pitched the idea of killing Dexter. The only one who really wanted to die was David Duchovny. He always thought Hank Moody should go out in a blaze of glory. But neither Michael C. Hall nor the producers ever thought it was the appropriate ending, that Dexter should die. Honestly, it was never discussed.
Might the network ever come back to that character?
NEVINS: It’s always within the realm of possibly. It worked for Jack Bauer. It worked for the Bluth family (on Arrested Development).
NEVINS: It’s intended as an ongoing story. There are two time periods in the show and, at some point, the present can catch up to the future, and then can go on. I have relative clarity about what’s going to happen for four seasons, and at least the beginnings of what a fifth season will be. But it’s these four characters, and the various relationships between these four characters. It will move forward in time and span time in these people’s lives. The first season is not just the summer. It spans about six months of time, if I’m doing my math right.
There was discussion about Showtime potentially being interested in partnering with Microsoft for a Halo series, but Microsoft is shutting down its media studios market. Does that change your relationship with that project, in any way?
NEVINS: My understanding is that they decided not to build a new streaming service, and they decided not to make the investment in that. On the other hand, the conversations about Halo are ongoing with those guys. It’s their premium property, and there’s enormous will in the company to do the right thing, or find a way to bring it to a new medium, in an exciting way. If we can put all the pieces together, it’s still something that’s possible.