The documentary delves deep into the Thin White Duke’s personal archive and emerges with a detailed look at his many ch-ch-changes. Showtime has set an August 1 premiere for David Bowie: Five Years, which focuses on individual years during the most commercially successful period of his long career. The 90-minute docu starts with 1971, when he created the Ziggy Stardust persona; then moves to 1975, when Bowie scored his first two U.S. top 10 singles; 1977, which spawned the influential albums Low and Heroes; 1980, the year of Scary Monsters; and “Fashion”; and 1983, the peak of his global popularity with Let’s Dance and the Serious Moonlight tour. Producers got unique access to the rock chameleon’s personal archive of costumes, set designs, lyrics and memorabilia, and each year mines the sources of his inspiration and where it led him. Check out the trailer for the docu, which aired last year in the UK:
San Diego is about to get a Gothic horror visit from Victorian England today and John Logan is about to let Penny Dreadful get truly uninhibited. “A lot of Season 1, for me, was actually putting the playing pieces on the board,” says the Oscar nominated scribe of the Showtime series of 19th century iconic supernatural misfits he created. “Now I feel we’ve had 8 hours to do that, to establish the landscape and so now I really get to play,” the first time showrunner adds with a laugh. “I can create more and more complex patterns of the relationships of the characters and of the supernatural element as well,” the Gladiator and Skyfall writer says. “In terms of the second season, I’ve written all but two of the episodes. So, the last two are yet to be written. So I’m well ahead of the game there, and the actors will all be getting it the end of this month.
In just over a month since Dreadful’s rather spectacularly blood soaked Season 1 finale, Logan will be taking the stage in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center this evening with cast members Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney and Josh Hartnett. If he returns next year, he may be bringing a few more people with him and not just absent leads Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. “I’m teasing out from the characters I really love …
Showtime’s new drama The Affair follows two married people – a school teacher played by Dominic West, and a waitress played by Ruth Wilson — who embark on an affair. The first 10-episode season of the series, debuting October 19, looks at their relationship from their sometimes very different recollections. Showtime topper David Nevins and show creator Sarah Treem both said the series is an exploration of marriage; Treem said she wanted to tackle the subject “in a Rashomon” way, showing differing perspectives and without judging either character, both of whom are in “very vulnerable places and, by chance, meet someone who they come to believe is their true love.” (In the series, West’s wife is played by Maura Tierney, and Wilson’s husband by Joshua Jackson – watch a new teaser below.)
One critic noted West had played a number of characters who were married but involved with someone else, and characters who were not married themselves but involved with someone who was – and even a married person involved with someone who was also married, as in this series. The critic asked West if there is anything different about playing one of these characters and playing someone who’s involved in a relationship that’s adultery-free.
To pass the time, Showtime distributed bottles of sports drink, BodyArmor — a company in which Bryant is a major investor. On the bottle were tags that reminded TV critics the TV project is “a portrait of an elite athlete’s professional and personal journey.” Showtime has said Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful figures in professional sports.
Bryant said he came up with the idea for Kobe Bryant’s Muse while lying in bed, mulling what to do for his next Nike campaign. He decided that, “now that my career is coming to an end” it would be “pretty cool to tell the genesis of where the mentality came from.” That’s the difference, he said, between this Kobe Bryant docu-mercial and an earlier Spike Lee Kobe Bryant documentary — the one that debuted on ESPN in 2009 and focused on one day of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s season.
TCA: Showtime’s David Nevins On Emmy Category Controversy, ‘Happy-ish’, ‘Halo’ Future, ‘Nurse Jackie’s End Game
Showtime‘s Shameless switching from drama to comedy was part of the Emmy category rules debate of the past several months. “There is always a degree of arbitrariness,” Showtime boss David Nevins said about the Emmy category assignments. He argued that whatever genres and categories are out there, Showtime’s DNA would be to defy them and push the limits. In the case of Shameless, he said executive producer John Wells had always wanted to submit the show as a comedy, with Showtime backing him up this year after competing as a drama for three years. The move paid off, with star William H. Macy earning a first lead actor nomination. “He is giving a comedic performance,” Nevins said.
Nevins gave an update on the status of Happy-ish, the dark comedy project the network had just picked up to series when star Philip Seymour Hoffman suddenly died in February. “I’m sitting on five scripts from (creator) Shalom Auslander that I think are brilliant,” Nevins said. “If we cast it the right way, I would make it.” Showtime had been quietly reaching out to A-list actors for the past few months to take over the role played by Hoffman. If the lead is recast, “it wouldn’t necessarily go straight to series.” But Nevins was adamant that the pilot starring Hoffman would not air.
Nevins confirmed that the TV series adaptation of Halo is still on track despite Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that it would shut down its XBox Entertainment Studios division, which was to develop and produce the series with Amblin TV in partnership with Showtime.
OK, he admits it: Homeland showrunner/executive producer Alex Gansa said the lack of a drama series Emmy nomination in 2014 “hurt.” The critics hurt, too. “I don’t know how you can look at the last episodes of the season, especially the last two episodes [and not believe] they are the best we’ve ever done,” Gansa said at today’s TCA. “But we’re going to get back on the mountain again.”
Gansa was speaking at a luncheon panel along with executive producers Alexander Cary and Meredith Steihm. The three revealed a few plot developments for Season 4, which Showtime announced earlier in the day would premiere October 5.
Gansa started off with the joking promise to “only kill most of your favorite characters,” adding to laughter: “I can guarantee that Dana Brody will not be back for Season 4” (a reference to Brody’s moody teenage daughter whom many critics thought got way too much moping screen time in Season 3).
But the writer-producers dropped a few real story tidbits: Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison’s bipolar illness has stabilized and in her new Middle Eastern setting will be on the tail of a new character, “someone whom she’s recruiting and trying to get his trust.” Steihm added that this is just one of “5 or 6 new characters” who will be added. Steihm confirmed that the character Carrie pursues as a recruit is portrayed by Life Of Pi‘s non-CGI star Suraj Sharma.
The upcoming fourth season of Showtime‘s flagship drama Homeland will debut October 5. The announcement was made at the top of Homeland‘s TCA presentation when the show also unveiled its first Season 4 trailer (watch it below). Set in the Middle East, the season was shot in South Africa after three years in North Carolina. It sees Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) assigned to a volatile and dangerous CIA station in the Middle East.
Dermot Mulroney will guest star in Season 5 of Showtime‘s series Shameless in a season-long story arc. Mulroney will play ex-bad boy and recovering addict Sean Pierce, Fiona’s (Emmy Rossum) new manager at Patsy’s Pies. Mulroney most recently appeared with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ award-winning August: Osage County. He also starred as a series regular in Crisis. Currently, Mulroney is in production on his first horror genre movie, Insidious 3: Into The Further.
Days after greenlighting its first comedy pilot for 2014 – Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, executive produced by J.J. Abrams – Showtime has ordered a second half-hour from well-known filmmakers: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, from feature writer Aline Brosh McKenna, with The Amazing Spider-Man helmer Marc Webb set to direct.
The comedy features musical elements, a first for Showtime. “This pilot is an exciting change of pace for us,” said Showtime President David Nevins. Co-created, written and executive produced by Brosh McKenna and writer/actress/comedian Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stars Bloom as Rebecca, a successful, driven, and possibly crazy young woman who impulsively gives up everything – her partnership at a prestigious law firm and her upscale apartment in Manhattan – in a desperate attempt to find love and happiness in that exotic hotbed of romance and adventure: West Covina, CA.
Brosh McKenna and Bloom sold the project to Showtime last fall. The pay cable network landed it in a competitive situation with what what I heard at the time was a commitment equivalent to a put pilot. Webb is joining the project at the pilot stage as director/exec producer. CBS TV Studios is producing. This marks the second pilot at Showtime for its sibling studio, following the 2011 Andrew Garland Project. Filming is slated to begin in California in the fall. “I am so happy to be working with Rachel Bloom, who is not just a powerhouse musical comedy talent but also a fabulous writer and creator,” said Brosh McKenna. “I feel very lucky to have found her videos online.”
Christy Grosz is a contributor to Awardsline.
After a career mostly spent in comedy, Lizzy Caplan has taken on the serious role of sex researcher and proto-feminist Virginia Johnson in Showtime’s Masters Of Sex, based on the 2009 biography by Thomas Maier. Caplan says playing opposite Michael Sheen, who stars as Dr. Bill Masters, was clever casting on many levels. “It seems like a smart choice to put an actor as established and respected as Michael Sheen opposite a comedic actress, because it mirrors the relationship between Bill and Virginia,” she says. Caplan, who’s still not past the “blind-gratitude phase” of the role, discusses her admiration for Johnson and those awkward sex scenes.
AWARDSLINE: Did the subject matter of Masters Of Sex ever give you pause?
LIZZY CAPLAN: Not really. Of course, in reading it and knowing what was to be expected of me if I ever got the role, that’s something I think anybody would think about. But I was so enamored with this woman, and her story, and who she was, that I knew it would be such a privilege and an honor to get to play her. Part of who she was, was this unbelievably comfortable-in-her-own-sexuality type of woman in a time when that was not exactly the norm. So I knew if I were to get to play this part, I had to figure out a way to be completely OK with it, and it didn’t take very long. Clearly, I’m not squeamish about it or else I don’t think I would’ve tried (out) for it.
After a few weeks of dealmaking, Showtime has finalized a pilot production order to Roadies, a comedy written, directed and executive produced by Cameron Crowe. The project, executive produced by My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman and J.J. Abrams, follows the day-to-day life of a successful rock tour as seen through the eyes of the crew members who help get the show on the road. It marks a return to the rock world for former Rolling Stones reporter Crowe, who previously tackled it in his semi-autobiographical feature Almost Famous.
Crowe wrote the script and will direct the pilot, with Holzman serving as showrunner. The two executive produce with Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk, with the company’s Kathy Lingg co-executive producing. Warner Bros. TV, where Bad Robot is based, will produce the project, described as an inside look at the reckless, romantic, funny and often poignant lives of a committed group of characters who live for music and the de facto family they’ve formed along the way. Gail Levin who was the casting director for many of Crowe’s features including Almost Famous, We Bought a Zoo, Elizabethtown, Vanilla Sky and Jerry Maguire, will be casting the pilot.
This marks Showtime’s first comedy pilot order for 2014. Last year’s crop of pilots yielded one half-hour series pickup, Happyish. The network is yet to make a decision on the future on the project, which has been in limbo following the sudden death of star Philip Seymour Hoffman in February. On the drama side, the network greenlighted pilot Billions in March.
Showtime has released a trailer for the second season of its hit series Ray Donovan, which returns a month from today on July 13. Back alongside star Liev Schreiber, Paula Malcomson, Eddie Marsan, Dash Mihok, Steven Bauer, Katherine Moennig, Pooch Hall, Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby is Jon Voight, who won the Golden Globe last season for his portrayal of Ray’s father Mickey. Season 2 will also feature guest star turns by Hank Azaria as FBI Bureau Chief Cochran as well as Elliot Gould, Ann-Margret, Wendell Pierce, Sherilyn Fenn, Vinessa Shaw, Brian Geraghty, Heather McComb and Kip Pardue. Creator Ann Biderman is exec producer alongside Mark Gordon, Bryan Zuriff and David Hollander. Watch the trailer:
Microsoft is beefing up the online video entertainment offerings of its Xbox Live online service by 25 percent, adding apps from HBO, Showtime, various Disney channels, Comedy Central and dozens of others it said will become available sometime this year. The company also is integrating Twitter and Twitter’s short-video service Vine into the service, providing ready access to the social-media services while watching TV through the Xbox One console. That deep integration will allow people to tweet about a show onscreen as they’re watching it, see in the program guide what shows are getting a lot of tweets and to follow what those who are connected with a show are posting.
Larry Hryb, a longtime Xbox executive, said in a video released today that the new approach with Twitter will make it easy for fans to talk about the shows they’re watching. It’s clearly an attempt by Microsoft to pull the so-called “second-screen” experience — watching a show while using social media on a tablet or phone — back into a single device. The integration looks slickly done in the video, but it will be interesting to see whether users will follow Microsoft’s lead. Will they use either a controller or perhaps their handheld devices with a remote-control app to tweet through the TV screen instead of directly through their phone? More will likely be disclosed in next Monday’s big presentation from Microsoft ahead of the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles.
Four episodes into Penny Dreadful‘s freshman run, Showtime has picked up a second season of the psychological thriller from James Bond writer John Logan, which weaves together classic horror origin stories. Logan is already deep into the writing of the second season, whose order is for 10 episodes, up from the eight-episode Season 1. Logan will once again pen each episode. Penny Dreadful got off to an OK ratings start on May 11, drawing 872,000 in its debut airing and 1.44 million in its premiere night — that was below the Dexter finale-boosted debut of Ray Donovan but slightly higher than the premieres of Homeland and Masters Of Sex. But Penny Dreadful’s strength has been time-shifted viewing. The series, which had amassed 900,000 views for the first episode before the premiere — the biggest sneak preview ever for Showtime — has become the network’s most watched new show ever on Showtime on Demand, which has been around for 12 years, and on 4-year-old Showtime Anytime with over 3.6 million viewers on the two platforms through the third week of the season. “I think because it’s a genre show, it has done incredibly well in all the new ways you can watch, beyond any show we’d had before,” said Showtime Networks president David Nevins.
Showtime‘s flagship drama Homeland has added Laila Robins (Bored To Death) as a regular and Corey Stoll (House Of Cards) as recurring for the upcoming fourth season. Robins will play Martha Boyd, the U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, who is professional and put together, with a ship-to-ship voice and personality to match. Stoll will play Sandy Bachman, the CIA Chief of Station in Pakistan and a rising star in the agency’s firmament. The series’ fourth season begins production later this month in Cape Town, South Africa for a premiere this fall.
Christy Grosz is an Awardsline Contributor
The story of two 1950s researchers breaking ground in the field of human sexuality sounds like a natural for late-night cable TV, but Masters of Sex is much more than its title might suggest. The Showtime series—based on Thomas Maier’s 2009 book of the same name—follows the professional and personal entanglements of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, whose more than 30-year partnership resulted in bestselling books and a research institute that bears their names. Despite their success, series creator Michelle Ashford says their personal connection is what makes them perfect for a drama. “It is without a doubt one of the most complicated relationships I’ve ever come across,” she says.
Awardsline: When did you learn about Masters and Johnson enough to know they would make a good TV show?
Michelle Ashford: I had been friends with (producer) Sarah Timberman for many years, and we were looking around for a pilot. She saw in The New York Times a review of Thomas Maier’s book and said, “I think we should look at this book. This sounds really interesting.” Up to that point, I knew (Masters and Johnson) existed, I knew they were famous, I knew (they) had something to do with sex. Then I read the book. It was news as to what was really going on in that relationship and the enormous impact they had. So we optioned the book. A ton of our material is based on (it). But the reason this happened was because (Timberman) has known (Showtime president) David Nevins for many years. She saw him in an airport, and she had the book in her purse and just handed it to him and said, “Michelle and I are thinking of doing this. What do you think?” We had talked to HBO, we also talked to FX, but David immediately read it, immediately got it, (and) said, “I see this completely.”
Awardsline: How much of the personal interactions did you have to create to tell the right story?
Ashford: Well, Tom’s book is very thorough, and it’s filled with a lot of fact. And he did spend many hours with Virginia Johnson and tried to glean her feelings about things. That being said, Masters was dead, and there are a lot of gaps (about) the emotional substance of what was going on, which is good for us because it leaves us some room to say what was really happening. We can explore all the different variations of their love affair and their professional relationship.
Tony Award winner Christian Borle has been tapped for a recurring role on the second season of Showtime‘s Masters Of Sex. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan star as William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the real-life pioneers of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a Midwestern teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. Borle will play Frank (Francis) Masters, William Masters’ brother. Borle’s TV credits include Smash, The Sound Of Music Live! and The Good Wife. He earned a Tony Award in 2012 for Peter And The Starcatcher. His other Broadway credits include Spamalot, Legally Blonde, Mary Poppins, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Jesus Christ Superstar. Masters Of Sex Season 2 premieres July 13.