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Showtime broadens scope

As cabler ponders name, 'Huff' preps bow

Showtime has dropped its “No Limits” tagline.

Formerly characterized by flagship show “Queer as Folk,” Showtime is in the process of replacing the “No Limits” motto, said entertainment president Robert Greenblatt, with a line that would better reflect the programming as it changes under his jurisdiction.

“I think it serves Showtime well in the past five years, ‘Queer as Folk’ being the best example of that,” he said, making his first appearance at the Television Critics Assn. press tour since joining the network. “It’s kind of hard to live up to that. The truth is we have no limits in a lot of respects, but once it was sort of defined by something that pushed the envelope so far, I think it was hard to keep coming up with things like that.”

On a related note, one of the first decisions to be made by Greenblatt was to pick up the pilot “Huff” to series. The show, about a psychiatrist having a midlife crisis, is decidedly less risque than some of Showtime’s signature programming.

Not flamboyant

“This isn’t going to be the loudest show on television,” he said. “It isn’t going to be ‘Queer as Folk’ in terms of controversy or anything like that. I think it’s just a great drama with a great cast.

“Huff,” starring Hank Azaria, Blythe Danner and Oliver Platt, will premiere this summer.

Meanwhile, Greenblatt said he’d begin defining the new Showtime through its upcoming series and about a half-dozen original movies.

“I think in the past, Showtime did mean something to the viewer, and there was that sense of serving smaller audiences, the black audience, the Latino audience, the gay audience, those kind of underserved audiences,” he said. “I think we want to broaden out from that.”

Greenblatt also defended criticism that Showtime was in the business of taking in castoffs like “American Candidate” and “The Reagans,” programs developed for other networks. Pay cabler officially ordered 10 segs of “Candidate” last week, having been in discussions with producer R.J. Cutler for the show ever since FX passed on it (Daily Variety, Jan. 8).

“I have no compunction to pick up a show that somebody else developed and decided not to air,” he said, noting that “The Sopranos” had been originally set up at Fox before getting scooped up by HBO.

Greenblatt also revealed that “SFC,” the Spike Lee pilot in development since 2002, is being considered for a six-hour limited series.

Showtime also announced Britney Spears will headline a concert spec for the cabler on March 28. Show will air live from the American Airlines Arena in Atlanta, a stop on Spears’ Onyx Hotel Tour 2004. Her last concert special, “Britney Spears Live From Las Vegas,” aired on HBO.

PBS pickups

Elsewhere at TCA, PBS has ordered a 12-episode second season of “History Detectives,” which explores historic sites, artifacts and tall tales told across the country. New episodes will premiere this summer.

And PBS and KCET announced a new drama starring Richard Dreyfuss as a veteran cop working Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Production is a part of PBS Hollywood Presents, the pubcaster’s ongoing drama initiative, launched in April 2001. David Black (“Law & Order”) and Dreyfuss are exec producers.

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