Producers chat up Nevins, Greenblatt

Industry sounds off on Showtime exec shuffle

Showtime’s appointment of David Nevins as entertainment prexy should make for a smooth transition in maintaining the caliber of programming that originated under Robert Greenblatt, according to producers who have worked closely with the execs.

“He’s a great audience,” Daniel Sackheim, exec producer of the Fox drama “Lie to Me,” said of Nevins, formerly prexy of Imagine TV (which produces “Lie” with 20th Century Fox TV). “He loves to tell stories and has a great sense for high-concept ideas.”

Sackheim also noted Nevins’ skill at marketing.

“David has a keen sense of how to best exploit a show’s attributes. He’s a well-rounded exec,” he said.

“Friday Night Lights” exec producer Sarah Aubrey said Nevins’ passion was evident when the Austin, Texas, football drama was on the cancellation bubble. He helped persuade NBC to pick it up year after year, and he was part of the team that brought along DirecTV as a crucial financial partner.

“He was aware it was a quality show that had to be made for a price, and he knew had to make that case,” she said. “You always had to make a case to the business people, and he was very persuasive and articulate.”

Added Howard Gordon, exec producer of “24”: “Ultimately, he understood and trusted the showrunner. When we needed it, he ran interference and had a very ginger hand in dealing with difficult personalities, mine included.”

Nevins faces a challenge in building on Greenblatt’s track record with distinctive shows such as “Dexter,” “Weeds,” and, most recently, “Nurse Jackie.”

“Nurse Jackie” exec producer Liz Brixius said Greenblatt’s presence will be m issed.

Brixius anticipated that Greenblatt won’t stay in the cable business — as there would little left for him to conquer after turning Showtime around — and he may steer toward network TV, feature films or an Internet venture.

“I’m heartbroken for myself but happy for Bob. He wants a new challenge and he’s a builder of things, whether it’s a single show or a season of programming,” she said. “He’s a very hands-on producer who wants to do more than one or two new shows a year.”

“Dexter” star Michael C. Hall said he’s enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the Showtime topper. Greenblatt worked with Hall in his pre-Showtime days when he was exec producer of HBO’s “Six Feet Under.”

Greenblatt gave Hall the shot to topline the moody serial killer thriller series even when many others didn’t see the thesp as a good fit for the lead in “Dexter.”

“The time Bob spent watching my work on ‘Six Feet Under’ and knowing me personally gave him the confidence in me,” Hall said from the set of “Dexter,” which is in production on its fifth season that bows in September.

“Sometimes people see you do only one thing well,” Hall said. “Bob had respect for me as an actor and confidence in my range. I’m thankful I was at the right place at the right time.”

Clyde Phillips, who ran “Dexter” for several seasons and just signed a deal with Lionsgate TV, added: “I don’t want to say he changed the face of cable TV, but he slapped it around and now it looks different because of him.”

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