After being praised by stars Claire Danes and Liev Screiber and AMC Networks boss Josh Sapan for being a steady hand at Showtime, David Nevins offered praise of his own to the power of television’s “oral culture.”
The Center for Communication gave Nevins the Frank Stanton Award, adding his name to an honor roll over three-plus decades that includes John Landgraf, Tom Freston and John Malone. A luncheon for the award at the Pierre Hotel featured remarks mostly toasting — but also lightly roasting — Nevins, followed by thoughts from the honoree.
Elaborating on his sentiment about TV being “the last bastion of oral culture,” Nevins described the simple but powerful way that ideas go from a creator’s mind to the screen. “Somebody walks into an office, tells a story, and if it’s a really good and compelling story, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars get invested. And when it’s working at its best, television is a medium that enlightens and unites us better than any other. It’s not happening so much these days.”
Danes, who will begin production of the last season of Homeland later this year, reflected on the role Nevins played in the show and her career. “Homeland was the first show David greenlit when he became president of Showtime. If you think about it, in hindsight that was a supremely gutsy move to make right out of the gate.”
After joking that the show has “reinvented itself every season — like, a good six-and-a-half out of eight,” Danes tossed to a gag reel produced by Showtime. It featured Nevins at his desk hearing a series of comically awful pitches from Showtime talent, as well as getting congratulations from talent not at the luncheon, including Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey and Sascha Baron Cohen. (Wearing a long, thin moustache that seemed like either character work or a disguise, Cohen mock-praised Nevins for “forcing me to interview Roy Moore with a pedophile detector,” a reference to a scene in Showtime’s Who Is America? that elicited a $95 million lawsuit from Moore.)
Schreiber, who confessed to being groggy after wrapping a night shoot of Ray Donovan in Yonkers at 3AM, lauded Nevins for “having his s–t together.” The executive’s entire family, Schreiber said, “has their s–t together. Really, David’s three dogs, they all s–t together.”
Nevins offered thanks from the podium to CBS execs Joseph Ionello and Tony Ambrosio “and all of my CBS colleagues who supported me not only in this room but every day on the job.”