Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Showtime and the producers of The Big C end Cathy Jamison’s personal cancer saga in hospice care tonight with its fourth and Hereafter season finale. Executive producer and showrunner Jenny Bicks naturally declined to divulge whether Cathy (Laura Linney) dies tonight, though she and fellow exec producer Darlene Hunt co-wrote. The mini-series’ four last episodes span a year in the life of the lead character, each separated by roughly three months. The finale follows Angelina Jolie’s shocking May 14 announcement that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, which spurred a slew of press calls to Showtime and the Big C team. Bicks, herself an early-stage breast cancer survivor, told Deadline. “It has really drawn attention to us in a way we couldn’t have anticipated,” she said. “I hope we’ve done something to help more people recognize that cancer isn’t any longer this thing you whisper about behind a closed door. And it isn’t necessarily a disease you necessarily have to die from.”The Big C started in 2010 as a half-hour Showtime dramedy starring Laura Linney as a woman with terminal melanoma. It evolved into this four-hour mini-series farewell as a means of wrapping up the storyline and giving more time to the creative team for each episode. Bicks explains: “We never really fit into a box. When you’re writing a half-hour, even for cable, you invariably need to rush certain elements. We had always wondered what it would be like to present in an hour-long format. We just got to live in these moments a little bit more. But it didn’t fundamentally change our DNA.” Showtime’s entertainment prez David Nevins deems successful this unusual experiment in series evolution – a “spin-on” rather than a spin-off. “It slightly changed the tone of the show, but only slightly. It gave people a new peg for writing about it and worked well for us.”
Bicks is adamant that if Linney isn’t nominated for an Emmy in the made-for-TV movie/mini acting category this year, “Then there is no God.” (Linney was nominated for an Emmy for 2011 but failed to win.) It’s rare, if not unprecedented, that a show and its performers would be eligible for Emmy attention in comedy series categories one year and longform the next. But Bicks doesn’t believe that TV Academy voters pay much attention to category. “They just look at the name and the performance.”