The lively annual Center for Communication luncheon, when the Center toasts a media luminary as they receive the Frank Stanton Award for Excellence in Communication, went down at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan Sept. 27. David Nevins, president and CEO of Showtime, got the prize, and Josh Sapan, president and CEO, AMC Networks, Claire Danes, star of Homeland, and Liev Schreiber, star of Ray Donovan, were there to salute Nevins.
When Nevins was announced as the honoree, David Barrett, Center for Communication chairman and former Hearst Television CEO/current Hearst director, called Showtime “a premier destination for first-rate programming that resonates with audiences everywhere,” and said Nevins “embodies the Center’s commitment to diversity and quality in all genres.”
Sapan celebrated Nevins with a little Dr. Seuss verse he’d penned. He titled the poesy “Oh the Shows He Can Show,” and one rhyme likened Nevins to a Jewish minister, while adding that the Showtime originals can be sinister.
Danes was pleased to, as she put it, “take a 10-minute break from breast-feeding,” as she gave birth just a few weeks before. She noted that Homeland was the first series Nevins greenlit, and said the show “reinvented itself every season.”
The final season of Homeland starts in June.
“David has been with us every step of the way,” she said.
Well, maybe not when her Carrie character was in the psych ward, Danes said, though maybe she “could sort of feel his finger on the button.”
Danes thanked Nevins for constantly pushing series cast and producers to make the boldest strike possible.
A video of Showtime series brain trust then saluted Nevins, which included Lena Waithe, creator of The Chi, calling him “probably the coolest white dude I know.”
Then Schreiber stepped to the stage, acknowledging he was a bit off his game due to shooting Ray Donovan in Yonkers, in the rain, until 3 a.m.
The new season starts Oct. 28.
“It helps to know someone at the top who is smart, and relatively friendly,” he said.
Nevins’ “singularly defining trait,” Schreiber added, is, “he has his shit together.”
He questioned Nevins’ allegiance to the Washington Redskins, but added, “If there is a problem, David will put in the time to solve it.”
Nevins then came to the podium, saying the kind words were “embarrassing…but very nice.”
He called storytelling “a truly noble endeavor” and spoke of television’s power in bringing people together.
The Center defines its focus as “to better prepare students for careers in media by connecting them with the best minds in media.”
“Mentoring talent,” Nevins summed up, “is in many ways the most important thing we do.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.