Charlie Collier didn’t actually dance, but he could have.
The AMC and SundanceTV chief noted during his presentation Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour that AMC has set cable ratings records during the past year thanks to “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul.” In an environment of 400-plus original series and dozens of outlets vying for eyeballs, “it’s remarkable that viewership records can even be set anymore,” he said.
That amounted to a subtle victory dance. Many of the journos in the room at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., wrote “Wither AMC?” stories last year predicting that the cabler would struggle to restock its lineup of shows after the momentous runs of “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” came to an end.
Collier noted that AMC now holds the mark for the three biggest scripted series premieres in cable history: “Fear the Walking Dead” “Better Call Saul” and “Into the Badlands.” In the coming year AMC has so many new shows that it will add a fourth night of original series on Tuesdays, in addition to its Sunday, Monday and Saturday schedules.
Leading the Tuesday charge is limited series “The Night Manager,” a glossy six-part espionage thriller starring Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hollander and “Broadchurch’s” Oliva Coleman. It’s based on the John Le Carre novel and helmed by rising star Susanne Bier.
The copious British charm in the series was palpable in ballroom. Laurie plays an illicit arms dealer who is hunted by Colman and Hiddleston’s characters. “He’s the worst man in the world and an incredibly charming villain,” Bier said of Laurie’s character.
AMC also took the unusual step of showcasing a show that has yet to start production, “Feed the Beast,” about two best friends who decide to open a restaurant after experiencing a tragedy.
It’s based on the Danish series “Bankerot.” The series isn’t even cast yet, so showrunner Clyde Phillips came out solo to talk up his vision for the show set in what he called New York City’s last frontier — the Bronx. “Feed the Beast” is targeted to premiere in May and will also air on Tuesdays.
“I feel like I’m on ‘Between Two Ferns,’ ” Phillips joked of his solo TCA outing.