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Nevins Era Begins At Showtime

Showtime recently named former
Imagine TV president David Nevins as its
new president of entertainment, replacing
Robert Greenblatt, who is leaving
the network when his contract expires
at the end of the month. Nevins — who
has developed such shows as Emmy
Award-winning drama 24, the critically
acclaimed Friday Night Lights and Fox’s
Emmy Award-winning comedy series
Arrested Development — and Showtime
CEO Matt Blank recently spoke to
Multichannel News programming editor
R. Thomas Umstead about the pay TV
service’s future programming plans.

MCN: Who approached whom initially?

Matt Blank:
I had admired David’s work
for many years, so I got in touch with him a
couple of weeks ago, which was convenient
timing, in terms of his situation, and we put
this together pretty quickly.

MCN: David, what
was it about Showtime
that interested
you to come over
and try your hand
at running the
company on the entertainment

David Nevins:
first and foremost, I
like watching their
shows. They’ve been
on quite a roll the
last couple of years
and have become a
destination for the
really good stuff on
television. I was not
really thinking about
going back to a network as a programmer,
but I think this is really one of the great
jobs in television. They do the shows I like
to watch and like to make, so it seemed like
a great opportunity to do the kind of bold,
risk-taking kind of programming that I like
to do. It was a very particular enticement
that Showtime was able to offer that I don’t
think I would have been interested in with
other networks.

MB: From my side, I think the most important
thing for me in filling this position is
that we wanted to bring someone in who
shared the sensibility of Showtime today,
and looking at David’s
work over the
years, he’s been involved
in a bunch of
shows that I’ve been
a fan of. I said to myself,
‘Wouldn’t it be
great if we had Arrested
24 or Friday Night
from day one?’
So, I felt that with
David I wasn’t talking
to someone who
I had to explain what
we were looking for
or what we wanted
this brand to be. So,
almost from day one,
a big part of that task was behind us.

MCN: David, I know it’s really early, but
can you give me an assessment of the
shows that are currently on Showtime? The
network has a good mix of dramas and comedies,
but are there other genres that you
are looking to bring to the network as well?

Yes, although I don’t want to be the guy
that tries to fix something that isn’t broken,
and Showtime’s been firing on all cylinders,
including comedy, drama and sports.
I’ve done both comedies and dramas in
my career and I think there are opportunities
in all sorts of different programming
genres. But ideally, I think you have to keep
trying to find the next big thing that pushes
the medium forward, and that’s what I’ve always
tried to do. My job is going to be to continue
to re-evaluate … we don’t want to get
stale and get locked into some kind of formula.
I’ve seen two really knockout pilots in
The Big C and Shameless, so the next couple
of programming moves are mapped out and
well-positioned. After that, sky’s the limit.

MB: The worst thing you can do in this
business is to think you’re not going to
need something new at some point in time.
We’ve got a lot of stuff coming in the next
year, and David is open for business as
soon as he starts with us, in terms of thinking
about what the long-term looks like.

MCN: Do you think working on the cable
side will allow you to be more creative in
the development of new original content?

Trying to find the next new thing that
pushes the medium forward hasn’t always
been rewarded in the broadcast TV environment,
and I think that’s what Showtime
lives and breathes, so I feel it’s a really good
mix of sensibilities. When you think about
24, Arrested Development, Friday Night
— these are shows that haven’t totally
been rewarded in the broadcast environment,
but put them in a premium world and
the sky’s the limit. I feel like a very creatively
ambitious person and I feel like Showtime is
a very creative and ambitious place.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.