Showtime Embraces Brotherhood

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With Showtime’s new series Brotherhood set to get play on CBS July 15, the pay cable network’s Chairman/CEO Matt Blank talked up the programming acumen of corporate parent, CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves at his TCA session Friday.

Blank dismissed the notion that Moonves had criticized Showtime at Morgan Stanley’s media investor conference in May, when he said the network’s programming played to critics, not mass TV viewers. CBS Corp. acquired Showtime last January in its split from Viacom.

“Leslie was taken out of context and was talking about his view of Showtime in the past,” Blank said, explaining that Moonves’ remarks pertained to a Showtime of days past.

He went on to say that although Moonves has been “hands-off” on the network’s newest batch of programming, Showtime considers him a “tremendous asset” and solicits his feedback when he has time.

“Look, Leslie right now is at the top of the pack in terms of network programmers of our time,” he said. “Don’t you think [Showtime Entertainment President] Bob Greenblatt and Matt Blank would try to find a way to take advantage of that?”

Showtime is looking to get a boost from CBS, when the broadcast network runs a cleaned-up version (the n-word in the first scene has been deleted) Brotherhood Saturday night (July 15). While Showtime would be open to rerunning episodes of other new series on CBS, the network likely won’t offer up more than one episode per series.

 "We want to lift the veil, we don’t want to pull it off,” said Blank.  No decision will be made about whether to renew the series at least until the numbers come in from the CBS play.

“Our colleagues at CBS are very anxious to see if they can help us overcome one of the primary challenges we have with our programming,” said Blank, clarifying that that challenge is not the programming’s quality, but the network’s ability to get eyeballs early and then gain momentum through marketing.

Next up, the network will premiere half-hour Damon Wayans sketch comedy The Underground Sept. 14, forensics drama Dexter Oct. 1, the second season of Sleeper Cell in December and Henry VIII drama The Tudors likely in first quarter

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