JERUSALEM — Some of Hollywood’s most powerful executives came together in Jerusalem on Monday to kick off the first day of INTV, Keshet International’s annual gathering on small-screen innovation, at the city’s historic YMCA.
The conference, which has evolved from a modest industry assembly to a veritable show business brain trust since its inception five years ago, was bookended on its first day with executive power talks, starting with a conversation on the shifting industry between Showtime CEO David Nevins and Keshet head Avi Nir.
Nevins, whose first-ever acquisition at Showtime was Keshet’s “Homeland” predecessor “Prisoners of War,” managed a friendly dodge of Nir’s questions on the competition he might feel with Netflix, insisting that his business is “not cannibalistic.” “It’s a deluge right now, particularly from the streamers — Netflix more than anything,” he said. “They’re still in high-growth mode. They’re not trying to deliver earnings.”
The day wrapped with what was rightly dubbed “The Ultimate Power Panel,” bringing together network chiefs from HBO, Showtime, Fox and Turner with moderator Rick Rosen, WME’s head of TV, for a friendly chit chat about competition, advertising and consumer expectations.
In between, over the course of 10 panels, the evolution of content delivery was a hot topic, as was fake news, the #Metoo movement, and the undeniable influence of technology.
Snapchat’s head of original content Sean Mills insisted that mobile storytelling was inevitable, referencing the history of both radio and television to point out that early adaption of those technologies was also dismissed as fads.
“You can tell stories in chapters, and as we move into more scripted programming, that’s something we’re learning a lot about,” he said. “There are a lot of great novels that are told in short bursts, and we believe you can tell great stories on a mobile device.”
Snap has aired over 40 series in the past year, and Mills says the pace is rapidly increasing.
And just as traditional rules for viewing are being redrawn, so are international boundaries on production, said Ran Telem, head of international development for Mediapro. Telem moderated “The Babylon Effect: The Future of International Co-Productions,” in which Rai’s Eleonora Andreatta; AMC’s Kristin Jones and Twelve Town’s Christian Wikander grappled with the definition of the international market.
“Nowadays we work in a global market, it’s not a European market anymore,” said Andreatta, whose projects include Netflix’s “Suburra” and the upcoming adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend.” “The competition is harder than at any other time. But also there’s the possibility for deals that were not imaginable a few years ago.”
Turner head Kevin Reilly weighed in on the mind-boggling speed of innovation facing current execs, saying, ”The next three years are going to see more amount of change than probably in the last 20.”
Later in the day, six female players — writer/director Sigal Avin; “The Crown” producer Suzanne Mackie; attorney Jeanne Newman; Lionsgate president Sandra Stern; Deadline’s international editor Nancy Tartaglione and producer Orly Adelson — gathered to discuss the fallout of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. “I don’t think I know a single woman in Hollywood who hasn’t had inappropriate contact and inappropriate behavior, inappropriate touching,” Stern said during the talk.
Variety‘s executive editor for TV Debra Birnbaum sat down with eOne head Darren Throop to discuss independent filmmaking, with Throop saying, “The business is changing at a rate that is staggering… our biggest challenge is being nimble enough and considerate enough to pivot our business when it needs to take new directions, and take on new forms of delivering and telling content.”
In the closing panel, HBO’s Casey Bloys and Showtime’s David Nevins both echoed that sentiment.
“Sunday night continues to be less important because there are so many other ways to get it,” Bloys said, with Nevins adding, “It really doesn’t matter. We get consumed more on the weekends during the weekdays.”
And when Rosen pointed that despite a full day of discussing diversity, the day’s closing panel featured five white men, all cracked a few jokes at their own expense — but acknowledged the work that has yet to be done, as well as what they’ve accomplished so far.
“More than one half of my direct reports are women. There’s no decision I make without consulting a woman on my team,” Bloys said.
Nevins added, “There’s diversity behind the camera, and there’s diversity in what we’re putting out into the world.”