Categories Homeland

Interview with Showtime president David Nevins on ‘Homeland’

I watched the “Homeland” pilot a few nights ago, and my first thought was, “This is not a Bob Greenblatt show.” There was a very successful brand under Bob, but this is not the sort of thing he would have put on. Is it almost a statement show for you?

You don’t think about it that way. It’s impossible not to follow your own sensibilities. It’s not as strategic as, “I’m gonna make a statement about what I stand for.” I’m just trying to make something that I think is compelling and different, can stand out and is relevant. Relevance is important to me. I had been aware of that show for a while. Howard (Gordon) and Alex (Gansa), I’ve worked with them (on “24”) and am friendly with them, and I was aware they were working on some show based on an Israeli format. I wasn’t really paying attention, and I got to Showtime and Howard said, “Would you read this?” And I said sure. I don’t know that they were thinking pay cable for it, but I started talking to them about ways the show could be developed in a different direction to go for pay cable, and it came together. They really developed the Claire character in different ways, and changed the trajectory of where it goes.

But there’s got to be some feeling of risk, in that, “We have this thing we’ve done for years, it’s gotten us Emmy nominations and wins, it’s gotten us a certain audience, and people expect this.”

I think that people who watch Showtime, “Homeland” is designed to appeal to. I think it’s going to be highly compatible with “Dexter.” I think it’s not going to be, “What is this?” But I think audiences are looking for the next new thing. I think audiences are ready, I think critics are ready, I think people inside Showtime are ready. “Okay, what’s the next iteration?” Change is good in an organization. …

I want to go back to the idea of renewable resources. (Nevins has said he wanted to focus on ongoing series rather than movies and miniseries because it makes more sense to devote time and money and marketing on series that could be around a while.) I watched the “Homeland” pilot, and while it was very good, I thought it could easily be a 13-episode miniseries where whatever happens with Damian Lewis’ character happens, and that’s it.

Absolutely, but those characters have long lives- where they’re going, and where it can go. You figure out television one hour at a time, one season at a time. I have a very clear idea what season one is, and I have a fairly clear idea of what season two can be, because I know where season one ends. I don’t know season three or season four yet, but we’ll evaluate as we go. But that’s a show that will not stand still. It will not be in stasis. Maybe in season five it would repeat itself, but it has advantages over other shows that are just about, “An event happened in the past, and let’s uncover that event.”

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