Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Premium cable channels enjoy the luxury of not having to worry as much as commercial TV about success in certain time slots, Showtime entertainment chief David Nevins said during today’s TCA Q&A with reporters. He pointed out that 65% of the Dexter audience watches the show at some time after its original airing.

But Showtime chose to focus on a time slot – an evening, that is — in presenting this afternoon’s panel featuring actors from its Sunday night series House of Lies (Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell), Californication (Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon) and Shameless (William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum).

The lively conversation ranged all over the map but at one point wandered to Macy’s short haircut, a marked difference from the filthy flowing locks his character sported when Shameless began (and the clean flowing locks the actor wore in the 2012 movie The Sessions). “I cut it off on the show, it was very dramatic,” the actor said, joking that after his buzz cut he enjoyed watching the faces of onlookers searching for something positive to say about his new look. “I got 7 hats for Christmas,” he added.

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Of his character, the actor drew laughs by saying: “There is no low for this character. They have installed special low-cal scenery because I’ve been eating so much of it.” 

Cheadle was also in fine comedic form while listening to co-star Bell praise him for never abusing his role as both star and executive producer by forcing his opinions on the ensemble. “There was never a time when anyone felt like he was giving a note,” Bell said as Cheadle quietly handed her money (a bill, denomination unknown) that she slipped inside the front of her dress. “You’re so handsome,” she purred as she accepted the money.

Watching the payoff, Handler quipped: “You do give notes.”

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In response to a question, the actors considered which of their respective characters is “the most fucked up.” The general consensus seemed to be that it was Macy’s Frank Gallagher.

Amid the silliness, actors on two of the series did manage to reveal a little about where their shows are headed in the new season. Cheadle and Bell said House of Lies would continue to expand on the relationship of their characters rather than stress the world of corporate America. “The procedural has been altered a bit, each episode is more about their lives,” Bell said. “It’s not get the deal, close the deal, end of episode.”

In Shameless, Russum said, the story may take a look at some of the ramifications of Frank Gallagher’s drinking. “This season one of the themes is how alcohol and drugs can really kill your body,” she said. While he might experiment with sobriety, Russum added to laughs: “This is never going to be Parenthood.”

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