EXCLUSIVE: In the rolling spirit of Emmy politics, Showtime is cutting to the chase for its Shameless campaign. Starting June 1 and running until the end of the month, 100 buses in LA will feature For Your Consideration ads for the cable network series’ fourth season. Plastering its Emmy hopes on the side of LA’s buses is nothing new for Showtime; it has done that in past years. What is new is that the cabler is having some fun almost at its own expense with ads that show a crossed-out “DRAMA” replaced by a scrawled “COMEDY.” After three years of competing in the drama category and not getting a series nomination, Shameless strategically shifted to the comedy category this year. In late March, the TV Academy agreed to the category change for the dramedy after a request by executive producer/showrunner John Wells. Based on a UK series, Shameless has only been able to score Emmy noms for guest star in a drama series, Joan Cusack, the past three years. Besides the category change and addressing it head-on in the ads, Showtime will not be using billboards as a part of its Emmy campaign as it has in past years.
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Showtime has put in development Control Alt Delete, a half-hour comedy series from Fox 21, Chernin Entertainment and Jason Winer’s 20th Century Fox TV-based Small Dog Picture Co. Written by Simeon Goulden, creator of the UK comedy series Spy, and to be directed by Winer, Control Alt Delete revolves around four smartass, workaholic associates in a “white shoe” law firm who are feverishly trying to move up the corporate ladder while avoiding becoming the next victim of the office serial killer. Goulden will executive produce alongside Chernin’s Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope and Small Dog Pictures’ Winer and Renate Radford. Goulden, repped by UTA and Curtis Brown Group, adapted his 2011 Sky comedy series Spy for ABC, where it went to pilot during the 2012-13 season with Rob Corddry starring. Winer, repped by ICM Partners and Mosaic, most recently directed and executive produced the CBS/20th TV comedy series The Crazy Ones.
Related: Showtime Developing Drama About Business Of Doping Pro Athletes
Showtime‘s period drama continues to add to its sophomore-season cast. Courtney B. Vance and Rene Auberjonois have joined Masters Of Sex in guest roles. Vance (FlashForward, Law & Order: Criminal Intent) will recur as Dr. Hendricks, head of an African-American hospital in St. Louis whose goal is to racially integrate his hospital, and Auberjonois (Warehouse 13, Boston Legal) will play Dr. Papanikolaou, inventor of the Pap smear. Season 2 of the series starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan premieres July 13 after the season premiere of Ray Donovan.
Related: Sarah Silverman Joins Showtime’s ‘Masters Of Sex’
Shares are down about 1.5% in initial post-market trading after the company reported mixed results for the first three months of the year. Net income at $468M was up 1.1% vs the period last year on revenues of $3.86B, -4.6%. The top line fell short of the $3.92B that analysts expected. But earnings at 78 cents a share topped forecasts for 75 cents. CBS says that last year’s results included $280M from its Super Bowl broadcast, and benefited from two additional NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship games. Their absence cut 11 percentage points from revenues at the main Entertainment unit, where revenues fell 9.3% to $2.3B with operating income -4.6% to $420M. Overseas sales helped to boost content licensing and distribution revenues 6%.
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Cable networks, which include Showtime, more than held their own helped by licensing deals for original series and higher rates. Revenues here increased 12.3% to $537M with operating income +11.9% to $254M. But bestselling book titles Rush Revere And The First Patriots and The Women Of Duck Commander weren’t enough to lift revenues at the Simon & Schuster publishing unit. Sales fell 10.5% to $153M with operating income up $1M to $11M. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Spike Lee is revisiting his debut feature, 1985′s She’s Gotta Have It, on the small screen. Showtime has put in development a half-hour series adaptation that updates the film, with Lee set to write and attached to direct. The project is taking a new, contemporary look at the characters and will explore Lee’s unique and provocative points of view about race, gender, sexuality, relationships, and the gentrification in Brooklyn. Showtime is a fitting home for the project as the pay cable network has built a whole slate of half-hour series that straddle comedy and drama in the tone of She’s Gotta Have It.
Lee made his breakthrough with She’s Gotta Have It, which he shot in 12 days during the summer of ’85 on a budget of $175,000 (watch the trailer below). The film, starring Tracy Camilla Johns as a young, sexually independent Brooklynite who juggles three suitors (Tommy Redmond Hicks, John Canada Terrell, Lee), ended up grossing $7,137,502 at the U.S. box office. It helped usher in the American independent film movement of the 1980s and paved the way for other black filmmakers. Lee is repped by ICM Partners.
John Singleton is returning to the setting of his debut feature Boyz N The Hood – 1984 Los Angeles — with Snowfall, a drama series project set up at Showtime. Singleton is set to direct and co-write the project, co-written by Eric Amadio. The two executive produce with Michael London and Underground’s Trevor Engelson and Evan Silverberg. Told through the eyes of a young black kid from Compton, a Mexican wrestler and a CIA agent charged with running money to the Contras, Snowfall will examine the beginnings of the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles. Allegedly fueled by CIA involvement stemming from the Iran-Contra affair, the drug started flowing to the U.S. in 1984, with Los Angeles as the first city to get hit hard. The project is described as being in the vein of Boyz In The Hood, which earned Los Angeles native Singleton writing and directing Oscar nominations, meets The Wire. Amadio, also originally from LA, previously developed an NFL drama at Starz. Singleton is with WME and attorney Stephen D. Barnes, Amadio with CAA and attorney Greg Slewitt. Both are managed by Underground.
Sarah Silverman has landed a recurring role in the second season of Showtime‘s Masters Of Sex. Silverman will recur in the guest-starring role of Helen. No word about the character’s function in the show, but we’re guessing she has something to do with sex. Production on Season 2 is currently underway in Los Angeles and will premiere Sunday, July 13. Silverman received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series for The Sarah Silverman Program, and was also nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Monk. But these days she’s maybe best known for the Emmy she won — for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics as one of the writers of that hummable tune “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!
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Eion Bailey (Fight Club, Almost Famous) has booked a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Bailey, repped by Paradigm and Industry Entertainment, will play a charismatic motivational speaker/self-help guru who needs Ray’s help. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Bailey most recently recurred on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. His other TV credits include Band Of Brothers miniseries, Dirty Little Secrets, Covert Affairs, Law & Order: SVU and ER. The 12-episode second season of the Mark Gordon-produced Ray Donovan is set to premiere Sunday, July 13.
Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful and complex figures in professional sports, according to Showtime. Gotham Chopra (Decoding Deepak, ESPN’s upcoming 30 For 30 film, The Little Master) directs the feature-length docu set to debut in the fall. “Kobe Bryant’s Muse will offer viewers a deep character portrait of a professional athlete who has transcended his sport to become a culture-moving personality,” said Stephen Espinoza, EVP and General Manager, Showtime Sports. “We are thrilled that Kobe has given us this unprecedented access, which will allow our viewers to witness such a challenging period of time in the life of one of the NBA’s greatest players.”
The docu will follow the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s career, detailing his mentorships, allies and rivalries that have helped shape his 18-year tenure in the NBA. A 16-time All-Star and winner of five NBA championships, Bryant dominated professional basketball until a series of recent injuries threatened to derail his career. He is scheduled to return to the NBA next season. Kobe Bryant’s Muse is executive produced by Kobe Bryant and Gotham Chopra in association with Mamba Media.
After three seasons in Charlotte, NC, Showtime drama Homeland is leaving the US to film its fourth season in Cape Town, South Africa. The end of Season 3 found Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) taking a job as a station chief in Istanbul. Showtime wouldn’t specify where exactly Mathison would work as the new season is still being mapped out, only saying that she is being “assigned to one of the most volatile and dangerous CIA stations in the Middle East where she is back on the front lines in the war on terror.” At TCA in January, Showtime president David Nevins already shed light on the setup for Season 4 with Mathison in the field overseas. “Homeland is a show that is deeply about a field operative (Carrie), and we haven’t seen her much in the field,” he said. “In Season 4 you will likely see her on the ground in a foreign capital doing her job,” adding that co-star Mandy Patinkin will continue to be “central and important” to the show. Read More »
Omar J. Dorsey (Django Unchained) has landed a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Dorsey will play Cookie Brown, a powerful music business entrepreneur recently released from prison. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Dorsey’s other TV credits include Fox’s Rake and HBO’s Eastbound & Down.
Newcomer Carole Weyers is set for a multi-episode arc on WGN America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Weyers, repped by D2 Management and Element Talent Agency, will play Elodie, a French switchboard operator at Los Alamos.
Ahead of Nurse Jackie‘s sixth-season premiere, Showtime has given the dark comedy starring Edie Falco an early seventh-season renewal. Clyde Phillips will continue as executive producer/showrunner after closing a new two-year overall deal with Lionsgate TV, which co-produces Nurse Jackie with Showtime. Phillips joined Nurse Jackie after Season 4. The series’ fifth season, the first with him at the helm, averaged 3.13 million weekly viewers across platforms, up 14% from Season 4. Under the overall deal, former Dexter showrunner Phillips also will develop new projects. “We are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with Clyde Phillips, a creative powerhouse who has reinvigorated the Nurse Jackie series and who is also a prolific developer of television series in the auteur television arena,” said Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs. “His expertise in comedy and drama makes him a rare showrunner/creator and we are lucky to have him in the Lionsgate family.”
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Showtime will air Seven Deadly Sins, a new documentary from Super Size Me writer-director Morgan Spurlock. Hosted by Spurlock, the series will explore each of the seven deadly sins — one per episode — taking an in-depth look at the weird and darkly comic world of sin. The project had been in development and production at Showtime, which is now announcing the series, along with a June 19 premiere date. Seven Deadly Sins comes from Warrior Poets, Spurlock’s production banner with partner Jeremy Chilnick. “For years, I’ve wanted to do an Alfred Hitchcock Presents-style show comprised completely of non-fiction stories,” said Spurlock. “A series just as dark and twisted as anything fiction could imagine, and now I’m thrilled to have that dream come true with Seven Deadly Sins. With Showtime as a partner, we’re going to make this as depraved as any scripted program as we dive head first into Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy & Pride. You won’t believe it until you see it … and even then, you may not believe it.”
Showtime‘s Shameless is switching Emmy categories. The hourlong dramedy, which competed as a drama for the past three seasons, will be submitted as a comedy this time after a request by executive producer and showrunner John Wells was granted by the TV Academy. Dramedies always have straddled the drama and comedy worlds, never quite fitting into either. Traditionally, they have been more successful when competing as a comedy, including a best comedy series win for Fox’s Ally McBeal and comedy acting Emmys for Ally McBeal and ABC’s Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. Netflix’s hourlong comedic drama Orange Is The New Black also will compete as a comedy series at the Emmys after being submitted as a drama (and largely shut out) at the Golden Globes. In the past three years, Shameless, based on the UK drama series, has earned three Emmy nominations for guest star in a drama series, Joan Cusack.