The Past Is Ever Present In Cable’s New Shows

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portion of the Television
Critics Association’s Summer
Press Tour held few surprises or
memorable moments — unless
you count Kelsey Grammer’s impromptu
personal phone conversation
during Starz’s Boss
presentation — but it was chock
full of previews for new programming

Period pieces continue to be in
vogue as both BBC America and Starz/Encore will give
viewers a glimpse of past eras. BBC America later this
year will deliver the post-Civil War/New York City police
drama Copper on Aug. 19 and World War I-era miniseries
The Spies of Warsaw, while Starz has in development
several period pieces based on real-life figures, from explorers
(Marco Polo) to artists (Da Vinci’s Demons, about
Leonardo Da Vinci).

GMC TV and TLC will
throw their respective arms
around faith-based reality
shows. GMC’s first foray into
the reality genre will profile a couple that has opened
its doors to 25 troubled kids in The Bulloch Family Ranch,
while TLC will chronicle several young men and women
who are leaving behind their Amish and Mennonite communities
to try living in New York as part of its Breaking
documentary series.

Not all of the TCA discussion surrounded new or returning
shows. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht lamented the
end of the network’s Spartacus franchise after the third
season airs next year. Albrecht said the series, which drew
more than a cumulative 6 million viewers per episode in
its sophomore season earlier this year, simply ran its course
with regard to its storyline.

“It’s better, probably, to leave people wanting more than
to risk repeating ourselves and diminish the overall impact
of the franchise,” Albrecht said. “It was a very difficult decision
and one we certainly didn’t want to be in the position
of making.”

HBO execs also found themselves
defending the network’s
commitment to diversity in
front of and behind the camera in the wake of criticism
about the whiteness of its Emmy-nominated series Girls.

HBO president Michael Lombardo said the network is
mindful of increasing diversity both in terms of show creators
and casting. He said the network has several shows
with diverse casts, such as Treme and True Blood, but he
added that the network needs to do more.

He also said HBO is working with director Spike Lee
on a project and has several other unidentified projects.