LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- "My goal from day one was to have fresh A level programming on the air every week of the year," David Nevins, Showtime's President of Entertainment, said was his mantra for the pay channel.
The executive-turned-producer-turned-executive once again - who's been behind such series as "Friday Night Lights," "24," "Parenthood" and "Arrested Development" - kicked off Showtime's executive session at the TCA Winter Press Tour touting its recent successes, whether it be subscribers ("now approaching 19 million"), awards ("we earned a record eight Golden Globe nominations, the most for any network"), ratings ("we got what our promo guys have been calling [this past Sunday], with all due humility, the biggest Sunday ever") or big name development (Claire Danes-led "Homeland" and Don Cheadle-led "House of Lies" are in or are about to begin production).
Nevins also announced the renewal of "Californication," return dates for "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara" (Monday, March 28), a two-hour launch for "The Borgias" (Sunday, April 3) and a new reality series about the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants with MLB Productions.
Outside its tubthumping and press release fare, Nevins revealed Showtime is working on "Gigolos," a reality series about a group of guys who are male escorts in Las Vegas. "I actually find the show quite fascinating, and I think it's that's it's not new territory for Showtime, but I think we are doing it in a way that really complements, sort of, the sophisticated stuff that we do with our with our comedies and dramas."
As for its future plans, Nevins gave a few estimates on the return dates for "The Real L Word" ("we are going to air it in the summer, sort of pretty close to where we aired it last year") and "The Green Room ("we haven't set it, but we are not far away from setting a premiere date") as well as the start of the Lisa Kudrow-led "Web Therapy" ("it's probably going to be in the second quarter, roundabouts there... we may do it in the summer").
Furthermore Nevins said there will be a few changes on "Real L Word" this season. "I think there's an interesting version of that show that we didn't quite get at last year," he said. "We're going to focus it somewhat around Whitney and her friends, which I found were the most, sort of, authentic, you know, young 20 something lesbians in Los Angeles. I think we can do a better job of, sort of, capturing that subculture and go deeper."
And finally, Nevins addressed his decision to pass on History's much-ballyhooed mini-series "The Kennedys." "I looked seriously at it, and I thought it was well-acted, well-made, and very watchable. And just what it really came down to is it didn't really feel Showtime. It didn't really feel, to me, premium cable. And I have, you know, great respect and love for Joel Chernoff, who I've known for many years. And it's got a great cast, but it just didn't fundamentally feel us."
The executive added that Showtime's focus is original, "renewable" series rather than short-form projects like "The Kennedys" ("series are renewable resources, and you give up that focus at your peril") and its purported right wing perspective "wasn't a factor in our rejecting it."