Kevin Spacey officially opened the Guardian Edinburgh Television Festival in the Scottish capital this evening, becoming the first Hollywood star, rather than exec or broadcaster, ever to deliver the prestigious James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture. The lecture is designed to focus on the topics that are currently top of mind for the British TV biz. The House Of Cards star and exec producer riffed that the Netflix show was “one of the primary — if not the only reason — I was asked to speak today.” In an hourlong speech, he touched on the show’s innovations, the problems with pilots, the importance of storytelling and the industry’s responsibility to support new talent.
One of his more rousing comments was about making programming. “We know what works and the only thing we don’t know is why it’s so difficult to find executives with the fortitude, the wisdom and the balls to do it,” he offered. Speaking of the House Of Cards experience, he said, “Of course we went to all the major networks… and every single one was very interested in the idea… but every one of them wanted us to do a pilot first… Netflix was the only network that said, ‘We believe in you. We’ve run our data and it tells us that our audience would watch this series. We don’t need you to do a pilot. How many episodes do you want to do?’” (more…)