Kevin Spacey’s Memo to TV Execs: Trust the Talent

Thesp delivers prestigious MacTaggart Lecture in Edinburgh

Kevin Spacey Memo
Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images

LONDON — Kevin Spacey told a gathering of the U.K. TV industry’s top execs Thursday that they should embrace risk-taking and trust creative talent.

Spacey, who was delivering the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival, said if the lecture were a political office that you had to run for, then his slogan would be, “It’s the creatives, stupid.”

SEE ALSO: Read Kevin Spacey’s Complete James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture

Spacey applauded the achievements of the “Third Golden Age” of television, citing shows like “The Sopranos,” “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad,” but added that those at the top of the biz should do more to lift up new talent.

“Our challenge now is to keep the flame of this revolutionary programming alive by continuing to seek out new talent, nurture it, encourage it, challenge it, give it a home and the kind of autonomy that the past and present — of our three Golden Ages of television — has proved it deserves,” he said.

He lauded Netflix for the freedom it gave the producers of “House of Cards,” and said it had satisfied its audience by doing so. “We get what audiences want — they want quality. We get what the talent wants — artistic freedom. And the only way to protect talent and the quality of our work is for us to be innovative,” he said.

Spacey added that the biz must create an environment where execs were “willing to take risks, experiment, be prepared to fail by aiming higher rather than playing it safe.”

Sometimes it was necessary to be one step ahead of the audience, he said.

“We need to surprise, break boundaries and take viewers to new places. We need to give them better quality. We might not disrupt the status quo overnight, but we can mold structures at the center of our businesses; because if we really put talent at the heart of everything we do, we might just be able to have greater highs across a broader spectrum of the industry,” he said.