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Showtime Splashes Down at TV Critics Panel with Climate Change Doc; Star-Studded New Shows Unveiled

Photo of Amy Dawes By Amy Dawes | Thompson on Hollywood January 17, 2014 at 1:11PM

Heat, drought and catastrophe conspired to provide a perfect entrance for Arnold Schwarzenegger when he showed up at TCA on Thursday to promote Showtime's epic documentary on climate change, "The Years of Living Dangerously." The pay cabler also unveiled previews of new shows "Penny Dreadful," "The Affair," "Happyish," and the return of "Episodes."
Eva Green in 'Penny Dreadful'
Eva Green in 'Penny Dreadful'

Somerhalder, star of CW's "The Vampire Diaries," pointed out that the younger generation that makes up the show's core demographic is particularly receptive and tuned in to environmental issues, and is well-positioned to influence parents and elders. The polarized political climate surrounding the climate change issue, especially as a liberal cause, dates back to Al Gore and the Kyoto Protocol in the '90s, the producers said. "Our hope is that this show will transcend that. That's why we're focusing on putting a human face on the issues," said climate expert and exec producer Daniel Assabi, also present on the panel.  

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Earlier in its presentation, Showtime announced two new shows to premiere later this year. Philip Seymour Hoffman will star in "Happyish," a half-hour comedy created by "This American Life" contributor Shalom Auslander, about an advertising exec in his 40s who fears he's fast becoming culturally irrelevant. Clips from the pilot, directed by John Cameron Mitchell, looked brilliantly funny. Rhys Ifans and Kathryn Hahn also star.   

On the drama side, the pay cabler announced "The Affair," an intimate look at two marriages and the affair that disrupts them. Created and written by Sarah Treem, it stars Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson.    Both new shows received ten-episode orders.

Preview clips for "Penny Dreadful," a gothic horror series premiering in May, provided the splashiest element of the Showtime presentation. The original drama, which marks the first adventure in television for screenwriter John Logan ("Skyfall," "Gladiator"), looked incredibly frightening, disturbing and lush. Set in Victorian England and starring Josh Hartnett and Eva Green, it looks likely to emerge as a strong rival to HBO's long-running "True Blood" for the demographic drawn to bloody erotica.

The long-awaited season three return of "Episodes," Showtime's biting send-up of the television industry, also got the full TCA treatment, with stars Matt LeBlanc, Kathleen Rose Perkins and Mircea Monroe appearing with exec producers and sole writers David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.

This article is related to: TV, TV Interviews, TV Features, TV News, TCA Awards, Television, Showtime, James Cameron, James Cameron

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.