"Homeland" is Showtime's shiny new success story, but at a press event Monday, entertainment president David Nevins spent a fair amount of time talking about shows that are ending, or might be ending relatively soon.
Nevins left the door open future seasons of the serial killer drama. Season 7 of "Dexter" begins Sept. 30, and Nevins called it a "game-changing year" for the show. Showtime has commissioned an eighth season as well and Nevins acknowledged that the show is expected to go off the air after Season 8.
"That's the likely scenario," Nevins said. "I'm not making any announcements today, but plans can always change. I think everything has gotten rewired this year in a very interesting way, given that Deb has to deal with who her brother is. We'll see where that carries us."
In the new season of "Dexter," "every scene is fraught," Nevins said. "You're wondering what is she going to do, what does he think she's going to do…. It just takes us to a richer place."
As for a show that is definitely ending, the "Weeds" series finale, which airs in September, "answers a lot of questions," Nevins said.
Nevins debuted clips from "Masters of Sex," the story of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and from "Ray Donovan," in which Liev Schreiber stars as a fixer to L.A.'s power players.
He also touted the network's success with "Homeland." Nevins talked about how he encourages the networks' creators to "make the unexpected choices" -- and that includes the possibility that a show like "Homeland" could kill off major characters as it follows their journey through the world of international intelligence agencies and terrorism.
"Anybody could go at any time," he said.
The general idea with all the network's shows is to try to "stay one step ahead of the game and one step ahead of the audience and one step ahead of you guys," i.e., critics, Nevins said. "There's an increasingly sophisticated audience, very narratively sophisticated, and you'd better not fall into predictable patterns. As soon as you get predictable, you get boring. It's a danger with every show, but I just try to encourage them to make the unexpected choice, and don't wait too long. I get bored. Don't wait until the final episode of a season to make the game-changing move."
Other bits of Showtime news:
- The original plan was to do four seasons of "The Borgias," which just began filming its third season, and that's still probably the plan, but it's possible the historical drama could run for longer.
- Showtime has commissioned a second season of "Inside Comedy," an interview series from David Steinberg and Steve Carell, and upcoming guests include Ben Stiller, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey and Carol Burnett.
- Showtime is developing a period piece from Ron Howard called "Conquest," about Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes; Nevins said the project, which is still in early stages, shows two cultures "with magic and mysticism at their core" colliding.
- He expects the Matt LeBlanc comedy "Episodes" to get a third season, though no official announcement was made on that front.
- The network will air a one-hour special called "Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion and Sex," which, if successful, will be the first in a potentially ongoing comedy series from the "Daily Show" and "Bernie Mac" veteran.
- Showtime unveiled a documentary series called "Closeup," in which filmmakers will profile controversial figures. The first film in the series will be "The World According to Dick Cheney" from R.J. Cutler, "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic" by Marina Zenovich, a documentary on rap mogul Suge Knight from Antoine Fuqua, and a look at music executive Tommy Mottola from Brett Ratner.
- "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States," a 10-episode documentary series about pivotal events in American history, will premiere Nov. 12.