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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 01/14/2011

Showtime will not air canceled Kennedy miniseries

By Lisa de Moraes

Major League Baseball Productions will produce a reality series for Showtime, documenting the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants during the 2011 baseball season, in a deal that got made in part because the team's manager is a big fan of "Friday Night Lights."

Showtime's new programming chief David Nevins was an exec producer on the high school football series "Friday Night Lights."

But Showtime will not telecast the Kennedy miniseries commissioned and then yanked by History Channel, even though it hails from "24" creator Joel Surnow and "24" was produced by Imagine TV when Nevins was president of that operation. Nevins was also an exec producer on Surnow's Fox drama.

"I looked at it seriously and I thought it was well acted, well made, and very watchable," Nevins told TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2011 of "The Kennedys."

"What it really came down to was it didn't feel Showtime," Nevins said.

It didn't feel History Channel either, according to that basic cable network which announced recently that "while the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality,we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the HIstory brand."

According to Nevins, it did not feel "premium cable" either.

"I have great respect and love for Joel Surnow -- known him for many years -- but it didn't fundamentally feel 'us'," Nevins told the critics, who were too beaten down by 10 days of Press Tour to fight back.

"I made the vow coming in, to focus on renewable scripted resources. You give up that focus at your peril," Nevins added.

The collaboration between Showtime and MLB Productions is currently in production, Showtime's newish programming chief said. Cameras will attend spring training and will be be "embedded" with the team during baseball season, while also covering the teammates' wives, girlfriends and parents. The premiere will be timed to coincide with the opening of the 2011 baseball season.

"MLB Productions is going to produce the show. Obviously they have some control," Nevins said when one critic worked up enough gumption to ask if Major League Baseball would have creative control over the project.

Nevins, who was named to the Showtime job last summer, said he's been working on the baseball project since his first day on the job. Initially, Showtime approached several teams but when the Giants won the Series it "made them the compelling choice."

"It helped that [manager Bruce] Bochy was a big fan of 'Friday Night Lights'." Nevins acknowledged.

One critic gave him an opening to gloat about Showtime having nabbed far more series nominations for Sunday's Golden Globe Awards than did rival pay cable network HBO.

"It's swinging in our direction right now," Nevins agreed. But he did not rise to the bait. "HBO is aggressive and they always have good stuff in the bullpen. These things ebb and flow."

"I think it's interesting coming to into a network that is healthy -- it's not how regime change generally happens in television," Nevins marveled of his new gig. He was named to the job after the departure of Bob Greenblatt -- who has since been named head of programming at NBC by Comcast, which is now jumping through regulatory hoops as part of its purchase of NBC Universal.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 14, 2011; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Winter TV Press Tour 2011  
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