As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for Showtime, Network President David Nevins took some time to talk about new and returning programming. Naturally, the biggest topic of conversation was the return of Twin Peaks, for nine episodes in 2016, all directed by David Lynch.
During the interview, he spoke about how Showtime came to be bringing Twin Peaks back after 25 years, with Kyle MacLachlan leading the show as Special Agent Dale Cooper, knowing the only way they could do it was to get David Lynch to commit to directing every episode, and how they’re just leaving Lynch and Mark Frost alone to do their show that promises closure and other returning cast members, as well as where things are headed with The Affair, his thoughts on the Homeland finale, a new showrunner and change in direction for Ray Donovan, that there is nothing currently happening with Dexter, in any incarnation, upcoming comedies (i.e. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Happyish and Roadies), and shooting the pilot for Billions. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
DAVID NEVINS: We almost broke the internet last fall, with news that we’re bringing back Twin Peaks, only 25 years after the last one. Series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost will write, produce and direct all nine episodes of our limited series. I have to admit that I was as excited as some of you in this room when the details of that announcement came together. We can’t wait for you to see the show next year. Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning Kyle MacLachlan is back to replay his role as Special Agent Cooper. So, it’s very exciting. He’ll be leading the show, and there’s going to be more cast rolling through, as we go.
What was the meeting like, with Mark Frost and David Lynch? Did they need to do much selling, or did they say that they wanted to do more Twin Peaks and you said yes?
NEVINS: Well, it was a little bit the other way around, where I was begging them and hoping to pass muster with David Lynch. It felt like the only way that you could do it would be to have David committing to directing all of them, so that was the thing that I was begging for. I think it’s something they had been toying with for a long time, and I think, in David’s mind, 25 years was the magic number. There’s a reference in the original that, “I’ll see you in 25 years.” He pays attention to that kind of numerology, in a big way. So, he came in and he fixated on some of the artwork in my office. That was helpful. I have some very violent, weird imagery. I think he liked that, and we were off in business.
Given how specific the show is, is this the kind of project where you’re leaving them alone to do whatever insane things they want to do?
NEVINS: I’m more or less writing checks and leaving them alone. It’s David’s show. It’s Mark’s show. I am just the grateful recipient of it. Although, I will say they have been very specific in promising closure, and I think that’s exciting. And from what I’ve seen – and I don’t want to even say what I’ve seen – I think this is going to live up to expectations, and then some.
There was a lot of speculation that The Affair might be an anthology series with a different couple each season. Was that ever part of the conversation or?
NEVINS: No, it was never part of the conversation. The show was always designed to be a relationship show, a show about marriage, a show about infidelity, and a show about memory and subjectivity. The relationship between Noah and Alison is just beginning. We’re nine months into that relationship. Alison and Cole, and Noah and Helen, are only just starting to deal with the fall-out of the affair. There’s this weird idea that there’s some kind of moral superiority that’s taking hold, and that it’s a closed-ended, eight-episode or ten-episode miniseries. But I think what audiences want out of television is to make bonds with characters, and then they want to follow them over time. These four characters and the people around them are only just beginning. It was a very clear four-season arc, with a trajectory beyond that.
Is Dexter, in any form, any part of any ongoing conversation at Showtime?
NEVINS: No, there is nothing really active going on. There’s no active development happening, just at the moment.
This was a good comeback season for Homeland, but then some people were disappointed by the finale. How did you feel about that?
NEVINS: I read that, and I also read some counter. I will be honest, I was a big advocate of going back to D.C. for the 12th episode, and I knew that the action climax was Episode 11. I think it’s okay to shake it up because this show has always been both about action and suspense, but also about the personal side. First of all, there were political things that needed to be tied up in Washington. And I thought it was really important that Carrie deal with her issues with motherhood. If we had not touched that in the last episode, I think the season wouldn’t have felt complete. I happened to love the final episode. I was very excited when I saw it.
NEVINS: We’ve done two seasons, but it’s on the trajectory to be a long-running show. The show has been really successful to be a long-running show. So, I feel like, for the health of the show, you need to make some moves. (Show creator) Ann [Biderman] did a brilliant job. They’re her characters and her creations. But it felt like this is a change that’s going to be healthy, in the long run. I’ve seen a couple of the scripts and I think it’s going to be very good. We’re going to get a little bit beyond the Donovan family. There’s a season-long arc involving a complicated family, but it’s not his family this time. And they have a great story involving real estate and a certain sport that doesn’t have a franchise in Los Angeles, and all the machinations that are going on behind the scenes are really good.
What can you say about your upcoming comedies?
NEVINS: On the comedy front, at the end of the year, we wrapped pilot production on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, as well as Happyish. I’m pleased to say that the pilot of Happyish has finally come together in a great way, and we’re picking up the series with ten episodes. The show has been through a long and difficult development process, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with the end results. Written with scathing wit and deep humanity by the brilliant Shalom Auslander, the show has an incredible cast, led by Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Steve Coogan, Emmy Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Bradley Whitford, and the always magnificent Kathryn Hahn. Ellen Barkin, Andre Royo and Molly Price round out the cast. I read all ten scripts of the coming season, and I can’t wait to premiere it on April 26th at 9:30 pm.
From here, I fly to Vancouver for the first table read of our one-hour comedy pilot Roadies. Not only are the creatives behind this project a murderer’s row of talent, with Cameron Crowe, J.J. Abrams, and Winnie Holzman, but the cast is incredible, too. Luke Wilson, Christina Hendricks, Imogen Poots, Rafe Spall, Peter Cambor and Keisha Castle-Hughes make up the rock star ensemble. We’ve also just cast rapper and actor Machine Gun Kelly in the role of Jesse.
What can you say about Billions?
NEVINS: We’re headed to New York to shoot the pilot for Billions, with the dynamic pairing of Oscar-nominee Paul Giamatti and Emmy and Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis leading the cast. Maggie Siff is also set to star, and Neil Burger will direct this drama about the power of politics in the world of high finance in New York City.