Showtime wrap-up: executive session and four shows talk at once - TCA Report
When I posted the news items that came out of Showtime's portion of the CBS tour, the one question I got was "When will Dexter be back?" Well, network president Robert Greenblatt mentioned that the third season would debut in September. No word beyond that. Didn't seem like news to me. But there you are, Dexter fans; that's all I've got on that.
The executive session was introduced by a semi-funny clip from one of the network's stars, Tracey Ullman. Really, it wasn't that good, so I won't talk much about it here. Greenblatt also showed clips of The United States of Tara and Nurse Jackie during his opening remarks. Other than that? Well, isn't that enough?
Seriously, though, Greenblatt thinks that, despite the cost of mounting series like Weeds, Californication, and Dexter, Showtime will continue to add original shows to its roster. "I think you'll see we're trying to gradually add more and more original series. And I think there were six or seven when I first came five years ago, and now there's, like, 11 or 12." Speaking of original series, he felt that there are two good seasons left in The Tudors, especially now that they're covering more than one of Henry VIII's wives per season.
On other series fronts, a third season of This American Life hasn't been ordered yet, mainly because, as Greenblatt said, show creator Ira Glass is not only busy -- he does host a radio show, after all -- but he's a "perfectionist." And he meant that in the good way. "We're talking to him about how many he wants to do and what form it might take."
Greenblatt and CEO Matthew Blank agreed that Dexter's exposure on CBS -- and it's many millions more viewers -- during the strike really helped the show. "I'm hearing it from people who are saying that, 'Gee, I saw Dexter on CBS,'" said Blank. "So it basically became a whole season of sampling for us, and I don't think you can discount that the impact of that is going to be." There are no current plans for Dexter or any other Showtime show to air on the mother network, however.
Greenblatt wouldn't say which character from The L Word would be spun off, and the actress who plays her doesn't know. So it's easy to say these plans are in the beginning stages.
Next came what the network called the "SHO Stoppers Panel." It paired up the stars and show-runners of four of the network's original shows: Mary-Louise Parker and Jenji Kohan from Weeds; David Duchovny and Tom Kapinos of Californication; Michael C. Hall and Clyde Phillips of Dexter; and Jason Clarke and Blake Masters of Brotherhood.
You'd think that with four of network's series represented on stage, the panel would have been a lively one. Alas, it wasn't. Not by a longshot. The most salacious things that came out of it were the reason why Parker broke her toe earlier this year -- she was doing a sex scene -- and some "news" by Duchovny of a big romantic Weeds / Californication crossover. "And it starts now." I'm sure Tea Leoni was happy to hear that.
All joking aside, each show-runner and star -- and, yes, people actually asked Clarke and Masters some questions -- talked about what's going on with their shows and the advantages and disadvantages of being on Showtime.
Kohan was asked, of course, about the shift in location to the border town where Nancy and her family now live. She said that the idea popped into her head during last year's TCAs, in front of a small pile of food. "At the little snack table I walked up to Mary-Louise and I whispered 'How would you feel if we burned it all down?' And she was psyched for it." She felt it was reinvigorating for the writing staff, citing a "restlessness" in the group. "I didn't want to lose anyone because they were feeling tired of the subject and so we just decided to blow it up and try something new and it really invigorated everyone."
Phillips mentioned that there's a strong possibility that the Dexter writers will explore what happens if Dexter kills someone that turns out to be innocent. But what they're exploring right now is Dexter actually opening up to another person, an assistant district attorney played by Jimmy Smits: "Dexter becomes more and more open with the Jimmy Smits' character and is able to talk -- not through voiceover, but in reality, in our reality, for the first time -- and open up a little bit about who he is and that's what we're going to explore this year."
Duchovny talked about what his function is as an executive producer -- after saying that it's first and foremost Kapinos' show. "So I try to make it an environment where you can be creative and be free and do great work, especially in comedy."
Hall felt that he was so initmately involved with Dexter. "maybe it's just a way to formally acknowledge a relationship that already exists between the writers and myself. I don't aspire to write the show. I enjoy the fact that it's a collaborative thing that we do and enjoy that I trust people to write it and trust them to let me say it the way I see fit. But I think maybe I am able to give some perspective as far as the connective tissue between beats or story developments."
Let's get back to Dexter for a second. Phillips thought the show's strike-time exposure on CBS helped his show tremendously, crediting that move as a contributor to its Emmy nominations this year. "I mean 6.5 million people
would see the show on CBS, where on a good night [on SHO] we would get 1 million people. And as Matt, I think, said, people would walk up to me -- I live in Connecticut and if I were wearing a Dexter hat, people would come up to me and say "Oh, my God. I saw your show. I'm now going to download it or I'm going to get Showtime."
I asked Kapinos and Duchovny if the lawsuit with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers over the name Californication is still going on. From off-stage, Greenblatt said "it was all taken care of." After the conference was over, when I asked him what that meant, he wouldn't elaborate. Duchovny deadpanned that now the show will be called "Hank Moody."