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Showtime Plans Stephen Colbert Election Special; Renews ‘Homeland’

TCA: Showtime president David Nevins also renews "Ray Donovan" and orders "SMILF," based on Frankie Shaw’s Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert


Showtime is looking to partner with Stephen Colbert to give election night viewers an alternative to news coverage.

The network is in talks to air a live election special hosted by the host from sister CBS’ “The Late Show.”

“Stephen wants to do it, I want to do it, the studio wants to do it,” Showtime president David Nevins told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour. “It will be Colbert unfettered. He’s promised to say a few curse words, which is important. It’s something I’ve been trying to get him to do for a while. I think it will be great.”

The special will be shot on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” set and produced by the “Late Show” staff.

Damian Lewis and David Nevins

Damian Lewis and David Nevins

Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock

Nevins said the idea for the live election night special came out of the success of Showtime’s political series “The Circus,” which he said “has had way more impact than I expected. In political circles, it’s an important part of the conversation. We want to have things that are culturally relevant. It’s really carved out a unique territory. That’s what made me think about doing this. Who’s the talent to do this, and Colbert was the obvious one.”

The idea, added Nevins: “You don’t just want to watch CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, watch Showtime on election night and Stephen Colbert will tell you who won Pennsylvania… I think it’s going to happen.”

Nevins pointed out that Colbert is not on CBS that night anyway, and he thinks it “would be a lot of fun… He’s had a good time being more political.”

Meanwhile, Nevins and programming topper Gary Levine told reporters that “Homeland” has been ordered for three more seasons (including the upcoming season), bringing the show to eight seasons overall.

Homeland Season 5 Claire Danes & Mandy Patinkin

Additionally, the network handed “Homeland” its Season 6 premiere date: The thriller, which was pushed from fall to accomodate production schedules, will return on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 9 p.m. ET. The following month, “Billions” (starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti) is back for its sophomore season on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. ET.

READ MORE: ‘Homeland’ Pushed to January: Executive Producer Explains Why That’s Necessary

As previously reported, “Homeland” picks up back in the United States, after several seasons overseas. Here’s the official detail from Showtime: “After she thwarted a terrorist attack in Berlin, season six picks up several months later and finds Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) back on American soil, living in Brooklyn, New York. She has begun working at a foundation whose efforts are to provide aid to Muslims living in the U.S. Season 6 will tackle the after-effects of the U.S. presidential election, with the entire season taking place between election day and the inauguration. It’s a strange, transitional time in the halls of government filled with anxiety and different competing interests, where a very fragile and complex transfer of power takes place between the outgoing president and the incoming president-elect.”

Other projects coming up including the new series “Guerilla,” which will premiere in spring. The drama, now shooting in London with director John Ridley, comes from Idris Elba (who also stars, with Frieda Pinto and others) and looks at the relationship between minorities and the police in 1970s London.

Showtime is also looking at splitting the 20-episode series “Purity,” starring Daniel Craig, to air in  2018 and 2019. Todd Fields will direct every episode.

READ MORE: Daniel Craig Starring, Executive-Producing in Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’ for Showtime

Also during Showtime’s portion of the Television Critics Association press tour:

• Showtime is in the ex-“Saturday Night Live” star business. Both Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam, who were just cut from the “SNL” cast next season, have already lined up their next gigs –both at the pay cable network.

Pharoah has been cast in “White Famous,” a half-hour comedy pilot based on an idea by Jamie Foxx. Pharoah will play “talented, young African-American comedian Floyd Mooney, whose star is rising, forcing him to navigate the treacherous waters of maintaining his credibility as he begins to cross-over towards becoming ‘white famous.'”

Foxx and showrunner Tom Kapinos (“Californication”) are behind the show, while Tim Story (“Barbershop”) will direct and also executive produce. Kapinos is writing “White Famous,” based on Foxx’s story. Foxx will also guest star in a recurring role.

As for Killam, he’ll star in the half-hour comedy “Mating,” executive produced by Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights”) and written and executive produced by Stu Zicherman (“The Affair”).

Killam stars in the lead role in the comedy anthology pilot, as “a recently divorced guy who married young and now finds himself completely unprepared for the brave new, frank and fluid world of dating and hooking up.”

Lionsgate is producing “White Famous” with Showtime, while Universal TV is also behind “Mating” with the network.

“Our conversations have been with the actors, and it’s been happening over the past several weeks,” Nevins said of the timing. “We were prepared to work around their SNL schedules. Our scheduling got easier when they ended up getting released from the show.”

• Showtime has renewed “Ray Donovan” for a fifth season. The show, which just received five Emmy nominations, will begin production on a new 12-episode season next year. “Ray Donovan” currently airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

• “SMILF,” based on Frankie Shaw’s Sundance Film Festival Jury Award-winning short film, has been ordered by Showtime as a comedy pilot. Shaw will star, write, produce and direct the semi-autobiographical pilot, with Michael London (“Sideways”) and Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office”) as executive producers.

The Boston-set “SMILF” will “take a raw look at a single, 20-something whose desires for relationships, sex, and a career collide with the realities of young, single motherhood.”

Shaw’s other credits include writing and directing the 2016 short “Too Legit,” starring Zoe Kravitz, which premiered at Sundance in 2016.

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