'Weeds' also has big Monday night for Showtime

Showtime’s “The Big C” opened to 1.15 million viewers Monday night, making it the most-watched premiere of any original show on the pay cabler in eight years.

Starring Laura Linney as a patient with stage-four melanoma, “The Big C” opened at 10:30 p.m. following the debut of the sixth season of “Weeds.” Including the 11:30 replay that drew 429,000, “The Big C” drew a combined aud of 1.58 million for the night.

Capitalizing on “The Big C” publicity, “Weeds” had its biggest night in history. With 1.3 million tuning in to the 10 o’clock telecast and 629,000 an hour later, the Mary-Louise Parker starrer landed just under 2 million viewers.

Showtime actually launched “The Big C” pilot online two weeks ago and had attracted 400,000 viewers via the net’s on-demand platform. In addition, the pilot was available Saturday night on DirecTV’s 101 Network as a way to get a sampling before the official Monday debut. Across linear, online and on demand platforms, 3.5 million viewers saw the pilot.

The pay cabler has four half-hour dramedies that deal with mothers who have a swath of personal issues: Besides the former two skeins, Edie Falco stars as a pill-popping medical professional in “Nurse Jackie” and Toni Collette deals with multiple personalities in “United States of Tara.”

Created by Darlene Hunt, Sony Pictures Television-produced “The Big C” co-stars Oliver Platt, Gabourey Sidibe, John Benjamin Hickey and Phyllis Somerville. In addition to Hunt and Linney, other exec producers are Jenny Bicks, Neal H. Moritz and Vivian Cannon.

Next on Showtime’s docket for premiering new shows is the John Wells-exec produced drama “Shameless,” based on the U.K. series of the same name. Skein, which will begin Jan. 9, stars William H. Macy as a drunken father and Emmy Rossum, who is left to take care of their family. Original creator Paul Abbott is also exec producing.

The following day will mark the launch of “Episodes,” the half-hour laffer starring Matt LeBlanc about a British sitcom that gets an American spin. Also, “Dexter” — the net’s top-rated show — is set to return with its fifth season Sept. 26.

On the executive front, former Imagine TV topper David Nevins has now been in office for a couple of weeks after replacing departing president Robert Greenblatt, who has yet to announce his future plans.

In another premiere Monday, TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn” fared well with 2 million total viewers and 1 million in the 18-49 demo — best numbers to date for a debut on the net.

“Hardcore Pawn” is produced RDF USA. Natalka Znak, Claire O’Donohoe, Richard Dominick and Anthony Horn are exec producers.

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