Home Box Office archrival Showtime's big splash this
year is not a specific movie or series, but its $40 million branding campaign, launched in
January, that promotes its new, 'No Limits' theme.
Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City premieres
this summer as a network-first six-hour miniseries. The sequel to acclaimed Public
Broadcasting Service miniseries Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City was
picked up by Showtime after congressional pressure convinced PBS that the subject matter
of life in the sexually active household at 28 Barbary Lane was too controversial for a
publicly funded network.
Thanks of a Grateful Nation is an ambitious, fact-based
drama about the effects of toxic chemicals used during the Persian Gulf War and the
government cover-up that followed. Based on four years of research and dozens of
interviews, the script -- by John Sachet Young, of China Beach fame -- weaves
footage from the interviews with veterans and their families with the story line. It will
run approximately four hours, with an intermission.
'They're the two sides of the Showtime
personality,' said Mark Zakarin, the company's executive vice president of
original programming. 'Thanks of a Grateful Nation is important, and it will
tear your guts out. More Tales is a very smart and funny look at our culture -- a
frozen moment in time as America was growing up.
'This is the kind of significant programming that you
need to put on if you are going to be the network that does the programs that no one else
dares to do,' Zakarin said.
This explanation dovetails with the new campaign, according
to Len Fogge, Showtime's executive vice president of creative and marketing services.
'Here's the thing: We have high awareness, but we
really want people beyond knowing who we are to know what we stand for,' Fogge said.
--Staci D. Kramer