Showtime showcase

Cabler's turning its attention to 'Tudors'

Showtime might still save “Arrested Development,” but in the meantime, paybox has snagged “Match Point” star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers to topline its original period drama “The Tudors.”

Period drama, from “Elizabeth” scribe Michael Hirst, Ben Silverman’s Reveille and Working Title, received a 10-episode order from the paybox Thursday during its portion of the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour.

Showtime also greenlit 12 one-hour episodes of “Dexter,” based on the crime thriller novel “Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” from “The Sopranos” scribe James Manos Jr. and starring Michael C. Hall.

As for the potential rescue of “Arrested Development,” Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt told Daily Variety, “We’re very interested in making it work for us.”

A deal to relocate the Fox comedy to cable is still in the works — “We’re having productive conversations with Twentieth, but we’re a step shy of closing a deal,” Greenblatt said — but a pair of major obstacles could still botch plans.

“(Creator Mitch Hurwitz) has not yet said, ‘I want to continue to do the show,'” Greenblatt stated, adding Hurwitz’s participation would be required if Showtime were to produce new episodes. “Also, 20th is asking for substantially more (coin) than what Fox is paying to license the show. It’s very expensive.

“That said, it certainly fits what we do, and I’m a big fan of the show,” exec continued. “We’re all trying very hard to make it happen.”

Greenblatt insisted to reporters bringing over the prepetually ratings-challenged laffer to Showtime made sense: “If even only a fraction of the Fox audience came to Showtime, it’d be a hit show for us.”

As for new dramas “Tudors” and “Dexter,” projects reunite Hall and Rhys-Meyers with Greenblatt, who was an exec producer on “Six Feet Under” and the CBS miniseries “Elvis,” for which Rhys-Meyers just won a Golden Globe for lead actor.

“Tudors” revolves around the early years of Henry VIII, his relationship with Anne Boleyn and the marriage that would turn his world upside down. “Dexter” is a dark comedy about a serial killer who works as a forensics expert.

Showtime also announced the start of production on alternative skeins “Damon Wayans’ The Underground” and “This American Life.” Wayans will star in and exec produce “Underground,” a 10-part sketch-comedy series reminiscent of “In Living Color.” Radio personality Ira Glass, meanwhile, will host “American Life,” based on his Chicago Public Radio show (Daily Variety, May 4). Both shows are slated to bow this year.

In addition, Showtime has ordered up two more 10-episode seasons of “Penn & Teller: Bullshit.” Greenblatt has not yet decided on a second-season order of frosh comedy “Barbershop.”

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