Showtime is making a major play in the documentary space. On the heels of the recent greenlight for a documentary about infamous rap mogul Suge Knight directed by Antoine Fuqua, the pay cable network today announced The World According To Dick Cheney, a documentary chronicling the life of the former Vice President, which will be directed by The War Room helmer R.J. Cutler. Additionally, Showtime is developing a Richard Pryor docu, through it is still in early stages, and talks with Pryor’s family for their cooperation are ongoing. The three projects are part of what Showtime calls “a new initiative to produce a slate of high-end, filmmaker-driven portraits of iconic figures.” “I had feeling we can have a real impact with documentaries,” Showtime entertainment president David Nevins said during the network’s TCA executive session this morning. The plan is to roll out the initiative slowly with a handful of documentaries and to produce more if they do well.

Nevins said that there is “clear endgame in place” for veteran drama Dexter, whose recent two-season pickup is the “likely endpoint,” “but I’m allowing for the possibility that the plan can change,” he added. He defended an incest-ish plotline this past season that linked adopted siblings Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) and Dexter (Michael C. Hall). “I’m aware that there’s a certain taboo despite the fact that they’re not genetically related, but it’s something that has been building for a number of years,” he said. Nevins confirmed that sports reality series The Franchise will return for a second season with a new “very interesting” Major League Baseball team, the deal with which is still being finalized. Nevins also announced that series Nurse Jackie, The Big C and The Borgias will return April 8. He dismissed the notion that the upcoming fourth season of Nurse Jackie will be its last. “I believe there’s life (there),” Nevins said. His big priority for this coming summer is the second season of comedy Episodes starring Matt LeBlanc. “There will be a major marketing shift this year, I think that the show has real potential,” Nevins said. He recalled reading all nine scripts of Season 2 in one sitting on one day, referring to that as “one of the most memorable days I had.” Breakout hit and critical darling Homeland will return for a second season in the fall, with Nevins hinting that Season 2 of the thriller drama won’t necessarily pick up the day after Season 1 ends.

Nevins also talked about two of the Showtime series currently on the air, noting that Shameless, which was up sharply in its second-season premiere last Sunday “hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves” and that new comedy House Of Lies, which opened solidly, has “hit potential.” He called it a “comedy about everything that’s messed up in American capitalism.” The show centers on a brash, flawed management consultant played by Don Cheadle, prompting a question why all Showtime comedies are about unlikable characters. “I don’t ever want to get formulaic,” Nevins said. “People look to us for challenging characters.” Nevins also downplayed Showtime’s rivalry with fellow pay cabler HBO. “HBO, they do their thing and they are doing fine. We are all all trying to make noisy programming that sticks out of the crowd.”

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.