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Showtime — a net in transition

As leaders change cabler touts new shows at TCA

With Robert Greenblatt officially cleaning out his Westwood office last week and David Nevins starting Monday, Showtime was literally a network in transition during the pay cabler’s Television Critics Assn. press tour sesh on Thursday.

The changeover in the entertainment prexy post comes at a moment when Showtime has an unusually high volume of fresh programming on tap for the next nine months. Showtime chairman-CEO Matt Blank chatted up the launches of several upcoming series, including Laura Linney starrer “The Big C,” Matt LeBlanc-toplined “Episodes” and costume drama “The Borgias,” with Jeremy Irons, Showtime’s re-entry into medieval history following the seriesfinale of “The Tudors.” “The Borgias” is set to debut in the spring and will begin production next month in Budapest.

“Big C,” which bows Aug. 16, is a dark comedy about a woman battling skin cancer. Linney told scribes at the BevHilton the theme is about living life to the fullest.

“What hit me the most was the theme of time and what do you do with time — the choices you make and how you spend time,” Linney said. “You have a limited amount and the privilege to grow old. I think we forget that in this world where youth is overly celebrated.”

“Big C” exec producer Jenny Bicks, who has battled cancer, said the skein is intended to delicate balance between thoughtful and funny. “We want to be truthful about the disease, which is fourth-stage melanoma,” she said. “We don’t want to think about if and when we’re going to kill (Laura’s character), it’s about the exploration when she’s alive.”

In his brief opening remarks, Blank said Showtime has grown its subscriber base to 18 million homes, calling it “a great accomplishment in one of the worst economies in the history of the country.”

Another drama the network is high on is “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum. Series, which debuts Jan. 9, is an adaptation of the British series from Paul Abbott, and the Stateside version will be exec produced by Abbott and John Wells.

Blank was also quick to note that Showtime received more Emmy noms for its original series than rival HBO, which scored a majority of its nominations in the minis and telepic categories.

Network needs to make a decision on the fate of reality series “The Real L Word,” a spinoff of scripted drama “The L Word.”

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