Comic-Con picks Showtime hit

For Showtime’s fourth visit to Comic-Con, it’s no surprise the network is bringing back “Dexter,” given its quirky genre conceit. But “Shameless” raised even the eyebrows of the confab’s organizers. The William H. Macy-Emmy Rossum starrer is the epitome of the show that is far removed from traditional Comic-Con fare but is still looking to capitalize on the promo platform provided by the gathering.

A U.S. take on the hit U.K. show, “Shameless” stars William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum in a drama that follows a large dysfunctional family scraping by in Chicago. Much like the Brit show it was based on, the skein packs in raunchy comedy and the kinds of adult situations a pay cabler like Showtime is free to show on the air.

” ‘Dexter’ was a huge hit at Comic-Con … after it did well for us we looked at our other shows, and ‘Shameless’ seemed like a good fit as well,” said Sharon Allen, VP of program marketing and advertising for Showtime, who is making the series part of the network’s “Showtime: Tired of Ordinary Television” panel Thursday, along with newbie CIA drama “Homeland.”

Pairing it up with “Dexter” will enable Showtime to have “Dexter” fans “get to know the Gallaghers,” the family in “Shameless,” Allen said. At the same time, “Comic-Con is like no other place,” she added. “It lets us reward its fanbase.”

But some projects can be considered too risque for the confab’s organizers.

Before Showtime could add the show to its panel, the network needed to get the blessings of the Comic-Con programmers. Despite what longtime attendees might assume about the smallscreen panels at the Con, nets cannot bring anything and everything they offer in the fall season in hopes of igniting heat for their upcoming schedule.

Networks must pitch their shows to confab programmers to make sure material won’t offend attendees.

In its presentation, Showtime sold “Shameless” as a property that skews young, bringing in the pay net’s youngest demo, thanks to the incendiary nature of the drama — and its cast.

Showtime stressed the show’s “large, devoted following with an alternative appeal,” and pitched the “subversive” nature of the show as a good fit for the Comic-Con crowd.

Comic-Con programmers ended up agreeing with Showtime execs that the nature and heart of the drama was relative to the core audience of the Con, which appealed to not only “Dr. Who”-watching Anglophiles, but to fans of the actors and creators who have their own geek cred.

Macy was once a “Mystery Man,” as well as the voice of Kerros on “Batman Beyond.”

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

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