Protesters stood outside the confab in an effort to persuade the pay TV execs to bring back the period drama, which Showtime cancelled this summer after three seasons. A plane also flew above the lunch with a banner reading, “D Nevins: Sho Fans You Care! SaveTheBorgias.com.”
The showing had little effect on Showtime prez David Nevins, who addressed the issue at the network’s exec session after lunch.
“I know we all got buzzed at lunch by the airplane,” the topper joked. “I feel bad about the money that’s being spent. As I was pulling in today, there was one protester out there and I rolled my window down and asked with he thought of ‘The Borgias’ finale and he said, ‘I haven’t seen it.’ He was apparently a paid protester, which was a little disappointing. I was thinking we could borrow some of the people from ‘Reign’ to beef up the ranks.”
(The CW did eventually send people dressed in “Reign’s” period attire to offer food to the “Borgias” protesters outside.)
In a more serious tone, Nevins noted, “We looked hard at doing a two-hour finale for ‘The Borgias’ and the economics of it just didn’t make sense. We didn’t move forward, and it came to a good stopping place at the end of season three.”
Showtime rolled out a slew of news to complement its TCA session, including word that Josh Hartnett and Eva Green will topline forthcoming drama “Penny Dreadful.” Dubbed “literary horror” by Nevins, the prez remarked that the series won’t skimp on the horror and “is going to scare the shit out of people.” Additionally in casting, Ruth Wilson has been tapped for the female lead role in the pilot for “The Affair.”
The exec coyly replied, “We announced a deal with Scott Buck today,” referencing an overall inked between the “Dexter” scribe and the network. “Draw your own conclusions.”
The paybler also announced “Time of Death,” a doc series from Jane Lipsitz and Dan Cutforth of Magical Elves that will follow people during the final days of their lives. Nevins said, “It’s not an easy show to watch, but it’s a subject I’ve wanted to explore in detail.”
Showtime’s digital presence, Showtime Anytime, beefed up its offerings by adding live east coast/west coast feeds of shows that can be accessed via laptop, iPad, iPhone, or other mobile devices equipped with the platform. West coast subs will be able to hit a “live TV” button on the app and tune into a broadcast of, say, “Ray Donovan,” and view along with east coast viewers.
Nevins mentioned that while an a la carte streaming platform for Showtime may available in the future, it’s too “premature” to discuss the option in a serious manner at this point. HBO chiefs offered similar words about an HBOGO a la carte offering, as well.
The Showtime head doled out extensive comments on Netflix’s episode roll out strategy, along with the streaming site not releasing ratings.
“I think the way Starz, HBO and we offer programming offers the best of both worlds. You can save it up and binge, or watch it one at a time,” Nevins explained. “…I still believe in the pleasure of giving [the episodes] out one at a time. I think watercooler chatter, the Monday morning quarterbacking, the in depth criticism that occurs on a weekly basis, it’s all meaningful. There is really smart [writing and criticism] that gets done in this ballroom. It can’t happen in the same way when everything gets dumped at the same time.”
He added: “Netflix is playing an interesting game…[but] for me, ratings are a function of showmanship. I think it’s meaningful when I can say ‘Ray Donovan’ is the biggest first year show we’ve ever had.”
Nevins also touched upon his fearlessness when it comes to change in his network’s serialized dramas, specifically on shows like “Homeland,” which has killed off several key characters over its two runs. The prez cited NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” in the discussion, which he helped shepherd from book to series and produced, and how he overhauled a good deal of the cast and the show continued on.
“I want our producers to take risks,” he explained. “It’s not about resetting to the beginning in every episode. You move forward in time.”