Showtime‘s Shameless switching from drama to comedy was part of the Emmy category rules debate of the past several months. “There is always a degree of arbitrariness,” Showtime boss David Nevins said about the Emmy category assignments. He argued that whatever genres and categories are out there, Showtime’s DNA would be to defy them and push the limits. In the case of Shameless, he said executive producer John Wells had always wanted to submit the show as a comedy, with Showtime backing him up this year after competing as a drama for three years. The move paid off, with star William H. Macy earning a first lead actor nomination. “He is giving a comedic performance,” Nevins said.

happyishNevins gave an update on the status of Happy-ish, the dark comedy project the network had just picked up to series when star Philip Seymour Hoffman suddenly died in February. “I’m sitting on five scripts from (creator) Shalom Auslander that I think are brilliant,” Nevins said. “If we cast it the right way, I would make it.” Showtime had been quietly reaching out to A-list actors for the past few months to take over the role played by Hoffman. If the lead is recast, “it wouldn’t necessarily go straight to series.” But Nevins was adamant that the pilot starring Hoffman would not air.

Nevins confirmed that the TV series adaptation of Halo is still on track despite Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that it would shut down its XBox Entertainment Studios division, which was to develop and produce the series with Amblin TV in partnership with Showtime.

“My understanding is that they are not going to build a new streaming service, but Halo is their biggest property, and there is enormous will to find a way to bring it to a new media,” Nevins said. “Those conversations are ongoing.” A decision will be made at the end of the year, with Halo eyed to air on Showtime anytime next year.

Nurse Jackie, renewed in March for a seventh season, is Showtime’s longest-running series currently on the air. Ending the show is “a topic of conversation,” but no decision has been made yet. As for reviving another long-running Showtime series, Dexter, “it is always within the realm of possibility” but there is nothing going on at the moment. Nevins denied that the network put pressure on the Dexter producers to keep the title character alive so the door is open for followups. He actually noted that the only conversation of killing off the main character was on Californication where star David Duchovny was pushing for his demise.

After the session, Nevins said that Lisa Kudrow, who toplines the web-to-TV improv comedy series Web Therapy on Showtime, asked for permission to do the upcoming Comeback sequel on HBO. “We said, go for it,” Nevins said.