TCA Summer Press Tour: CW, Showtime’s turn

The cast of "Jane the Virgin" at TCA.
The cast of “Jane the Virgin” at TCA.

Friday was two other CBS Corp. other properties presenting their wares at the tour: co-owned CW and premium channel Showtime.


Executive session : Mark Pedowitz addressed the critics and looked a happy man: despite a rocky future ahead (a possible Tribune defection and the future of co-owner Time Warner) – his network was up 14 percent in total viewers and up 5 percent in adults 18-49 for the 2013-14 season, with its competitors either flat or down. Pedowitz contribues this to adding more male-skewing fare (Arrow) to the schedule while still appealing to females.

Pedowitz also defended renewing some low-rated series such as Beauty and the Beast, noting it had some benefits for its corporate partners (ugh) and was a big international seller.

He also talked about diversity (like every other exec) and said it was a top priority for his network (and looking at CW’s shows, do we need to ask? They are miles ahead of the curve.)

One show that will likely become a big hit with critics (and probably the first original CW show to do so) is Jane The Virgin, which is reminiscent of ABC’s Ugly Betty. Based on a Venezuelan telenovela, a woman finds out she was accidentally inseminated by a doctor. Chicago native Gina Rodriguez was a big hit in the room (as opposed to Kevin Williamson’s appearance the previous evening.) She told the crowd she was offered a role on Lifetime’s serial Devious Maids, but turned it down because she thought it was too stereotypicial: “I became an actor to see myself onscreen. Every role that I’ve chosen has been one that I think will push forward the idea of my culture. I wasn’t going to let my introduction to the world be a story that’s been told many times.”

Next was The Flash, CW’s revival of the short-lived 1990-91 CBS series. But don’t look for any similarities between the two as the new version is decidedly less campy than its predecessor. We’re incorporating almost everything from the mythology into it and have added a whole new backstory with the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator” said DC Entertainment CEO Geoff Johns, saying it would be “The most faithul DC Comic adaption ever.” 

One change from the comic books is two of the characters – Iris West and Det. Joe West – are being played by African-American actors, reflective of the world today.

One notable quote from the session: preparing for next week’s Comic-Con and the show’s importance to comic book fans, someone on the panel joked: “I don’t think there’s a “Grey’s Anatomy’s” convention.”

CW announced at the tour it was renewing Whose Line Is It Anyway for a 24-episode third season. The series has been a constant performer on Friday nights and helped broaden the network’s appeal.

Showtime's David Nevins at the exec session.
Showtime’s David Nevins at the exec session.


Executive session: David Nevins addressed the controversy over Shameless making the unprecedented switch in Emmy categories from drama to comedy: “There is always a degree of arbitrariness,” said Nevins, who said he’ll try to defy the categories and genres and challenge them to the limit. Nevins also addressed the status of action series Halo, which was being developed by Microsoft’s XBox Entertainment Group before it closed down last week. Plans for the show are still on track, he said, as is plans for Happy-ish, a project Phillip Seymour Hoffman was working on before he died.

First up was The Affair, a new series about a schooteacher (played by Dominic west) and a waitress (Ruth Wilson) who… well have an affair. The story is being told through different perspectives.

At the Ray Donovan panel, executive producer Ann Birderman seemed flattered when asked if adding a therapist character was paying a homage to The Sopranos. She said it wasn’t, noting that “No one’s in therapy for very long in this show, it’ s not a conceit we’ve carried for any length of time”, Birdman said. The panel also featured Emmy nominee Jon Voight, who recently made headlines criticizing the Obama Administration. Wisely, he stayed away from politics and focused on being grateful to work on Ray Donovan, even name-dropping stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Hal Ashby, who he collab arated with in the past. 

The creative minds behind Homeland were none too happy about their recent Emmy snub – but the show must go on, and the producers and writers announced some major plot developments for season four, which you can read about by clicking here. 

Finally, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant had a laugh when he arrived late to his own panel for an upcoming Showtime documentary about his rehab from an injury that kept him out for most of the past season: “Sorry I’m late. I’m was out looking for a coach.”