You’ll have already seen my story about Showtime greenlighting “The Borgias,” which I posted because it was easily the biggest news within the network’s executive session, but Robert Greenblatt, Showtime’s President of Entertainment, did have a few more things to say during his remarks…and these are some of them:
* First of all, it must be said that Greenblatt had us from “hello,” offering an opening which couldn’t have been more perfectly designed for his audience. “I’m glad this is the first day,” he said, “because it’s so great when you guys are not sort of at the end of the rope here after rolling your eyes from all of what we’re saying to you, and I hope I can engage you enough today, because I’m sure all of you are just waiting for tomorrow’s NBC presentation. I’d love to get my temporary TCA card so that I could sit in on tomorrow’s session.”
* Coming soon is Showtime’s first foray into the world of traditional reality series. Get ready for “The Real L Word of Los Angeles,” which Greenblatt says will be on the air probably this summer. “We’ve just cast those women,” he said, “so at some point we will parade them in front of you for some kind of grilling…and I mean ‘parade’ in the best sense of the word.”
* When discussing the network’s new series, “The Big C,” a dark comedy starring Laura Linney as a woman dealing with a diagnosis of stage-four cancer, Greenblatt said, “I hope you all got our press announcement yesterday that we greenlighted a series about a character facing a terminal illness; I just want to make it clear that we have not picked up ‘The Jay Leno Show.'” Ouch…and ho, ho, HO!
But seriously, folks, Greenblatt says, “We look at the show essentially as a wake-up call as she begins to kind of look at her life and decide how she’s going to live it for the last amount of time that she has, and I think in the best possible world here, I think what we’ll do with this show is humanize the dilemma of her illness. Obviously, the show will walk the line between drama and comedy, and I don’t think there’s anybody better who could do that than Laura Linney. We’ve also surrounded her with some extraordinary people, an ensemble of great actors: Oliver Platt plays her husband, and we have Gabourey Sidibe, who’s the star of ‘Precious,’ who’s in the show as well.”
The pilot for “The Big C” was directed by Bill Condon, who already has experience with directing Linney and Platt from when they all did “Kinsey” together. We aren’t yet privy to the entire pilot, alas, but Greenblatt offered us a sizzle reel from it, and it looks really good, but for my money, no line topped this one from Linney to Sidibe: “You can’t be fat and mean. You can either be fat and jolly or a skinny bitch. It’s up to you.” The network has ordered 13 episodes, and the series goes into production as soon as Linney finishes her current commitments at the Manhattan Theater Club, with a premiere planned for later this summer.
* Greenblatt also spoke briefly about “Episodes,” the network’s new comedy, which was announced a few months ago. Created by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik, the series is about a British couple who have a hit series on the BBC and, when an American TV network comes to them and convinces them to come to Hollywood and do an American version of their show, Hollywood just systematically destroys the show.
“Not,” added Greenblatt, “that that would ever happen at Showtime.”
Although “Episodes” won’t actually begin production until the spring, the producers thoughtfully put together a short piece to give us an idea of the flavor of the series…and it was funny. As you may have heard, the series will start the former Joey Tribiani, Matt LeBlanc, who will play himself as the woefully miscast star of the show within the show, and the piece showed us what he had to go through to get the part. (“I’d be playing myself, and I have to read? Fuck Showtime!”) Production on the series starts in late spring, and Greenblatt hopes the series will be on the air in the fall…and if it maintains the tone of what they showed us, then so do I.