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AMC/SundanceTV Executives Talk ‘Prestige Popcorn’ and New Drama Slate

AMC has the high-class problem of having a massive hit series that lifts all boats on the channel. But with a smash like “The Walking Dead” comes pressure to capitalize on that success by offering strong companion series.

David Madden, newly appointed president of original programming for AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios, said Saturday during AMC’s portion of the Television Critics Association press tour that a key focus for him is finding genre fare that will encourage “The Walking Dead” audience to stick around. Madden joined AMC in September after a long run at Fox and Fox 21 Television Studios.

“We’re looking for things we’re internally calling ‘prestige popcorn’: thoughtful genre shows that are truly human but immersive and fan-focused,” Madden said. He noted that for all the shock and special effects on “Walking Dead,” the show turns on “deep relationships and big emotional themes.” 

At the same time, AMC still looks to maintain its profile as a home for “rich character-driven, totally ambitious” drama series in the vein of “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” Madden said. Three new shows in that vein are the social satire “Dietland,” “Lodge 49,” a look at disenfranchised men who are members of a social club, and the deep-sea mystery “The Terror.”

Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios, kicked off AMC’s session by acknowledging the many challenges that traditional TV networks are facing at a time of ever-increasing competition for viewers.

AMC Networks “is adapting to a variety of factors impacting our industry: The explosion of content, the entry of new and deep-pocketed providers and dramatic changes in viewer behavior,” said Collier.

To that end, her noted that AMC’s new drama “McMafia” will make all episodes available to subscribers of the fledgling commercial-free AMC Premiere service after the Feb. 26 debut on the linear ad-supported channel.

(Pictured: David Madden)

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