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James Hibberd

Showtime Execs: We Didn’t Like 'Sopranos' Ending Either

July 14, 2007 5:03 PM

The Obligatory Question of TCA was a tad more interesting when asked of Showtime head of programming Matt Greenblatt: “So what did you think when the screen went black?”

“My immediate reaction was that something technically happened to the TV set,” Greenblatt said of the “Sopranos” final scene. “Personally, I didn’t like it. But if you have a creator like David Chase who’s passionate about what they’re doing, it’s hard to say no. I would have probably tried to talk him out of it, and failed.”

Showtime also announced a Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks pilot, “The United States of Tara,” a comedy about a woman with multiple personality disorder billed as “‘Weeds’ meets ‘Sybil.’” “We never make fun of her condition, though her situations are at times very funny,” Greenblatt said.

One should never judge a project too harshly from a logline, especially with Spielberg attached, but at first blush the project is reminiscent of HBO ordering a J.J. Abrams drama script a while back set in a cancer ward about the effect of hope on disease. Both seem like the sort of development a network would not order from a producer with weaker Hollywood gravity, the sort of development that premium networks do too much of: paying A-list talent for their B-list ideas for the pleasure of being in business with them and industry buzz.

Otherwise, the Showtime executive Q&A is the network’s most congenial TCA session in years. Goodwill garnered by “Weeds,” “Dexter” and “The Tudors” have resulted in the critics, for once, not giving the network a hard time about its ratings and comparing it endlessly to HBO.

“Projects are coming to us first,” chairman and CEO Matt Blank said. “And it’s not a position Showtime has historically has been in. And that’s a big deal.”


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