Showtime has had “casual conversations” with with Sacha Baron Cohen about a potential second season of “Who Is America?” — but network execs admit it won’t be easy to recapture the element of this season’s surprises.
“I’m dying to bring it back,” Showtime Networks CEO David Nevins told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour on Monday. “There will be a process. I don’t know if I’m going to be making any announcements” anytime soon, Nevins added, but “he had me at hello.”
Cohen first pitched the idea for “Who Is America?” a year and a half ago to Showtime execs — and somehow, the production of the series remained secret up until just weeks before its launch last month.
“It’s remarkable that we were able to keep it under wraps,” Showtime programming head Gary Levine said. “Sacha does what he does better than anybody.”
Levine echoed Nevins, telling reporters on a second season, “I think the desire is there, he’s enjoyed the time at Showtime and we’ve loved having him on our air. If there’s a way we can find to continue the show we’d love to do it.”
“Who Is America?” made waves even before its launch, as Cohen’s targets began to admit in public that they had been duped — including former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who accused the comedian of playing a wounded veteran. (It was later revealed that his character is actually a conspiracy theorist on a motorized scooter.)
Asked about when Palin’s appearance might be shown, Levine said cryptically, “All I can say about that is there are several people who have thrown themselves into buses that may not be heading their way.”
Some interviews may never see the light of day, as “Sacha is incredibly hard-working and selective in the final product,” Levine said. “And he’s always refining it. He has a very high bar. We will see what we see.
“This is Sacha the comedian who just keeps working and working,” he added. “He’s refining stuff right up until it goes on the air. He screens it in front of audiences. It looks like he’s doing it off the cuff, but it’s remarkably organized and deeply researched. I am in awe of his work ethic and his team.”
“Who Is America?” has been touted by Showtime as having triggered strong subscription growth for the premium network, particularly its streaming service.
“[Sacha has] a remarkable ability to make noise, and generated a ton of publicity,” he said. “I think as a piece of original comedy it’s remarkable what he achieved.”
It’s a risk, he said, that “I am really glad we took… I think Sasha is one of the greatest comedians of our time. He is the Daniel Day-Lewis of comedy.”