The TCA panel for Starz‘s new series Survivor’s Remorse — about basketball phenom Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), who must balance fame and fortune with his former family life — found themselves tiptoeing around a statement made earlier by Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in his opening remarks: “White people don’t watch a lot of shows that don’t have a lot of white faces.”
Albrecht was talking about Power, Starz’s drama series about a nightclub owner/drug dealer that features a predominantly black cast. Albrecht boasted that the series draws “the largest concentration for any premiere show since The Wire — about 50% of the audience”, the executive said. But Albrecht added that Power still needs to be given time to develop crossover appeal.
Survivor’s Remorse will be different, insisted the producers and cast. On today’s panel along with cast members: Executive producers Mike O’Malley, Maverick Carter and Tom Werner. EP LeBron James was unable to attend (panelists joked that he was busy getting ready for “his new job” after revealing earlier in the day he was signing with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers).
Werner, veteran producer of megahit The Cosby Show, said that despite Albrecht’s remarks this story will resonate with a mainstream audience. “It’s about a family” like The Cosby Show, Werner said. “I think it’s got great appeal to the audience whether they’re white or black or yellow or green, they’re not worried about a niche show… I think they probably don’t analyze it as much as we do.”
Werner added: “I’ve shown this show to a lot of my friends, and they identified with the characters. Hopefully they laughed, too.”
Cast member Erica Ash said that the show will cross over because the humor is not being written specifically for black audiences by O’Malley, who is white. Joked O’Malley: “This started as an Irish Catholic show.”