TCA: Nevins Cool on Limited Series, 'Believes In Pilots'

Complete Coverage: Winter Press Tour 2014

Pasadena — Showtime entertainment president David Nevins threw some cold water on the recent excitement over limited series Thursday during the pay cabler's portion of the TCA winter press tour.

“I think it's an interesting trend,” Nevins said at his executive session, before noting that limited series (miniseries) are also not new to TV. “I still think the best thing for us is to get shows that we can really get people in love with then bring them back a year from now. I believe fundamentally in renewable resources. ”

Nevins comments followed days of enthusiastic limited or "event" series announcements from broadcast and cable networks such as CBS, the CW and FX.

But he didn't completely rule out trying the format in the future and praised the way FX's American Horror Story franchise approaches it. "There is a basic framework and concept," he said. "And they can do different stories with different casts against that."

The Showtime exec also chimed in on the pilot process, another topic that has come up repeatedly in TCA sessions.

“I believe in pilots,” Nevins said. “You learn a lot from pilots.” Showtime makes few pilots that don’t go to series, but had a recent high profile bust with The Vatican, which the network announced last December would never air. Nevins blamed the shift inside the actual Vatican that occurred when Pope Benedict stepped down and was replaced by Pope Francis for the decision. “I’m glad we didn’t make 13 episodes of that.”

Asked about the network’s relationship with Netflix, Nevins touted the recent agreement to sell exclusive rights to series Dexter to the digital platform. “We sort of decided about three years ago, maybe earlier than that, that it was very important, if you want first run programming, if you want to see Homeland, Shameless, House of Lies, you’ve got to subscribe to Showtime,” he said. “And if you want to, once the show has finished its original run like The Borgias or Dexter or The Tudors, we’ll sell that. And some of the shows are exclusive to Netflix. Some of them are on both Netflix and Amazon. So we exist in the ecosystem.”

Nevins alluded somewhat to the next season of Showtime's hit show Homeland, saying he expects the focus to shift to Claire Danes’ character’s work as a CIA field operative. “I know that this is a show that is fundamentally about a field operative, and … we haven't seen her much out in the field, operating. So the likely plan for next year is you will see her on the ground in a foreign capital doing her job.” Asked about expectations for Danes’ co-star Mandy Patinkin, Nevins said, “My expectation is he'll be central. He'll be important.”

Nevins also discussed Showtime's evolution to a destination network, where "the best actors and writers really want their shows." "The last four years have been good for us," he said. "We are replacing first generation shows one by one, and the new shows are working."

Speaking with reporters onstage after his session ended, Nevins also addressed the possibility of a spinoff of the recently-wrapped drama series Dexter, saying that any new show would have to involve star Michael C. Hall. “I think that show is that character,” he said. “It’s not been done in television. If I were to do something, I would want to do Dexter in a new concept and configuration.”

Showtime also announced series pickups for new shows Happyish and The Affair, and premiere dates for new series Penny Dreadful, returning series Californication and Nurse Jackie, and docu-series Years of Living Dangerously.

Stephanie Robbins contributed to this story.