Showtime Boss Talks 'Hot-Button' Homeland, 'Subversive' Lies, 'More Violent' Borgias

Showtime president of entertainment David Nevins had much to talk about as he held court at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Thursday morning. Among the hot topics were edgy shows aplenty, including the espionage-thriller Homeland, the potentially subversive House of Lies (starring Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell), and the next round of The Borgias (and its very special “guest stars”).

House of Lies | Because the pay cabler doesn’t depend on advertiser support, “We have the ability to push limits,” Nevins said, noting that this new comedy — premiering Sunday, Jan.8 (between Shameless and Californication) — will do just that. “Underneath the glossiness” of a workplace series centered on a hot-shot consultant (played by Cheadle), “there’s an opportunity for a really subversive show.” The rather bawdy sneak peek shared with reporters seemed to support that.

Homeland | Revolving around a CIA operative (Temple Grandin‘s Claire Danes) who suspects that a returned-home POW (Life’s Damian Lewis) is not the hero he seems to be, “Homeland is going to touch on some pretty dangerous themes [and] a lot of really hot-button issues I don’t think anybody else could get away with,” said Nevins. “There is stuff bubbling up in that show that is going to freak people out.” Check out the brand-new trailer here, then read on for more:

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The Borgias | Series creator/filmmaker Neil Jordan “is making some interesting moves in Season 2,” which is about “how power corrupts,” Nevins said. “If Season 1 leaned towards ‘white-collar’ crime, Season 2 is a little more violent and visceral.” Watch for historical figures such as Machiavelli and DaVinci to figure into the sophomore run.

Shameless Promotion | Though the freshman comedy came up rather empty in this year’s nominations, Nevins feels strongly that “because of its odd tone, its day with the Emmys is coming.”

100 Bullets | Updating the press on this potential adaptation of the comic-book series, Nevins said, “We’re working on the script, and I think it’s a very interesting idea for a television series. I’m not ready to make a move just yet, but it’s an important piece for us.”

Possible Pick-Ups and Cancellations | Nevins is “optimistic” that Weeds will be picked up for another season, while the yet-to-be-renewed Real L Word “became more distinctive” in its second season and “is a very good show for us.” Addressing the axing of United States of Tara, he said, “It was a big show for us, it got real acclaim… [But] we felt that show had accomplished what it was going to accomplish. It was time to plant some new seeds.”