Showtime President on Genre Programming: ‘I’m Not Going to Chase ‘Game of Thrones”

TCA 2015: David Nevins discusses new series, finding comedies and why it’s a scary time for free speech

With Showtime losing its hit show “Dexter” and TV finding hits in genre programming, network president David Nevins told reporters at Monday’s Television Critics Association press tour how the network is approaching its search for programming.

“We’re looking for something that feels new and original, different from what’s out there,” Nevins said. “We stay away from things that others are doing very well. I want all of our shows to have adult appeal and difficult psychology. I want depth.”

When it comes to genre programming, Nevins referred to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as examples of shows that have gone beyond the guy who goes to Comic-Con to bigger groups of adults, including women. But he’s still looking for something that has depth and isn’t going to green-light something just to bring genre TV to Showtime.

“I’m not going to chase ‘Game of Thrones,'” he said.

Other topics that Nevins touched on:

On landing the “Twin Peaks” revival: Nevins said, “I was begging them” to come to Showtime. Appropriately, David Lynch wanted to direct all of the episodes and thus wanted to make that part of the deal. And the timing was right: “It’s something they’ve been toying with for a long time. Twenty-five years was the magic number,” Nevins said.

On why he liked “Happyish:” First, Nevins admits he finds it frustrating that “I haven’t launched more comedies.” So, he’s happy to have “Happyish,” which he finds has “got a lot of heart, a lot of emotion and big funny. To me, it feels like the next wave of cable comedy.”

On closed-end or limited series: Nevins says that he definitely thinks there are some good limited series ideas out there and that he’ll be “opportunistic,” but that Showtime’s business doesn’t lie in limited series.

“The core of our business is that viewers want to make a longterm relationship,” he explained. “Our business is constructed on fall in love [with a series] and keep paying until it gets back.”

On a “Dexter” spinoff: It will always be a part of Showtime, but there are no spinoffs planned and nothing being discussed.

On new “Ray Donovan” showrunner: “You feel like, for the health of the show, you have make some moves,” he said. “It’s going to be healthy in the long run.” The show will expand beyond the Donovan family and also feature a “great story” that involves real estate.

On Pakistani complaints about “Homeland:” Nevins said it’s a scary time to be a producer of controversial, political, boundary-breaking shows. “It’s been a bad month for free speech around the world,” he said. And while they will keep those complaints in mind, Nevins wants to support the creative work and their choices.