“Showtime is in the best competitive position we’ve ever been in,” said Nevins, during a conference call with reporters. “A lot of things are going right for us right now.”
Nevins pointed to the cabler’s lineup of series, including “Homeland,” “The Affair,” and “Billions,” adding, “It’s fair to say nobody else has the consistent strength of shows that we have.”
He also credited the network’s roster of talent, saying Showtime has become the “premier destination for top actors and producers around the world.”
“There’s a number of reasons they’re choosing to come to Showtime now,” he said. “Talent knows when we put their shows on the air they’re going to get noticed. We only launch a small handful of highly curated shows in the course of a year. These actors and producers know that their projects are going to matter to us. We’re not in the churn-and-burn business like some of our competitors. We work very hard to provide an atmosphere that fosters creativity. That’s really important for the people making decisions about where to come.”
He dismissed any idea that pay-cable rival HBO was struggling. “From where I sit, it looks like HBO’s doing quite well, but I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game,” he said. “It’s been a good period for us. We’ve been delivering with consistency… It’s not us vs. them. It’s a much bigger universe than HBO vs. Showtime.”
Nevins also announced that a deal was close for a three-season renewal for “Homeland,” which would take the signature Showtime drama through season 8, as well as a scheduling move to January. Alex Gansa will remain as showrunner.
“It’s proven it can reinvent itself year after year,” said Nevins. “Season 6 is really interesting. It deals with that miraculous moment in American democracy when you have a peaceful transition of Presidential power. The entire season takes place in the 70 days between Election Day and Inauguration, when you’re in that transitional time when all the instruments of governmental power are being handed from one administration to another. A lot of complications ensue. ‘Homeland’ has proven again and again an uncanny ability to reflect real-world politics that we live in, and our very difficult place in a 21st-century world and it does it incredibly well.”
He reiterated his goal to have series premiering monthly, and has revamped the network’s scheduling strategy to make that happen: “Masters of Sex” will bow in September, followed by “Shameless” and then “The Affair.” He also said that he was “really excited” about Alex Gibney’s upcoming “Zero Days” cybercrime documentary, which he promised would make news. (It will be released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures on July 8th, and will follow sometime later this year on Showtime.)
“Our future looks very strong and secure,” he said. “There are many exciting shows to come in our pipeline.”
During the call, he confirmed the news announced earlier in the day about the pickup of 20-episode limited series “Purity,” starring Daniel Craig (“James Bond himself,” as Nevins said), calling Jonathan Franzen, Todd Field and David Hare a “dream team” of writers. “I think this will be one of the most talked-about projects in the next couple of years,” said Nevins. “The thing that I love about the show is … for a novel that comes from such a literary master as Franzen, it really reads with the energy of a psychological thriller.” That joins the previously announced pickup of limited series “Guerilla,” starring Idris Elba.
He also announced the pickup of a comedy pilot “White Famous,” based on an original idea from Jamie Foxx and “Californication” creator Tom Kapinos. It’s about what it takes for African-American comedy star to become “white famous” and cross over to a mainstream audience. Casting is just beginning for the lead role; Foxx will play a recurring role.
Nevins also discussed:
• “Twin Peaks”: It will premiere in the second quarter of 2017. Production has been completed, and David Lynch is now in the editing room.
• “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”: Nevins said he had no regrets about passing on the pilot, which ultimately landed at The CW. “I’m happy for its success,” he said. “It ultimately feels like found its better audience on the CW.”