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Showtime says it's still showtime

Is there a work stoppage going on at Showtime?

That's been the speculation since the pay network passed on four high-profile pilots it ordered. While four may not seem like a big number, all had excellent pedigrees. "Possible Side Effects" is from Tim Robbins. "End of Steve" is from "Rescue Me" co-creator Peter Tolan and stars Matthew Perry. "The Farm" is a much anticipated spin-off of Showtime's lesbian drama "The L-Word," while "Ronna & Beverly" is a comedy that counted "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan among its creators. Hardly amateur hour. While Showtime already has a big roster of shows, it has fewer theatricals after it passed on renewing its deal with Paramount Pictures. That means it needs lots of shows in the pipleline to fill the void.

KirnhcncGREENBLATT2Looking to pour cold water on ongoing rumors of cost cuts by parent company CBS Corp., Showtime Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt told Company Town that he has as big a budget as he's ever had and that "there have been no demands from [CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves] to reduce programming costs. It just didn't happen."

The folks behind some of these shows beg to differ. "All the indicators were that we were delivering what they wanted us to deliver," said one creator who was involved. Another said, "we turned it in and got no notes and Bob loved it."

So what it is it, then? "I want the entire company to embrace these things," Greenblatt said of the passed-up pilots. "We have a lot to lose if we do anything that isn't at the highest levels.... We didn't have that across-the-board feeling on any of them."

In other words, to borrow a line from a show from that other pay cable network, "he's just not that into you."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Showtime Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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with starz increasing its series, HBO getting its groove back with true blood and east bound and down, and the new epix channel taking movie contracts away from showtime; one has to wonder what showtime future holds

Greenblatt's response is damning on two counts: Either there is a budget cutback and he hasn't been told (unlikely, or more likely he is not disclosing so), or, there is no budget cutback, or he is so insecure about his position in this "succeed or else you're out" economic environment, that he refuses to take a stand to green light anything on his own. Neither is a recipe for ratings success.


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