Matt Blank: Showtime's CEO
BY CRISTINA KINON
NEW YORK FAVORITES
’HOOD: The West Village. “I’ve lived up on Park Avenue for the past 20 years, but now that the kids are out of college, we’re moving to the West Village. The hip restaurants and cool sneakers are going to keep us young.”
BUSINESS LUNCH: Michael’s. “At lunch I like to see a lot of people I know and be somewhere where I know I’ll be comfortable.”
BRUNCH PLACE: Maialino. “I like it because it’s so casual, relaxed and authentic, and I love the ricotta pancakes.”
Most people wouldn't recognize the potential star power in a serial killer or a mom who deals pot or a drug-addicted nurse. But then again, most people aren’t Showtime Networks chairman and CEO Matt Blank.
“The word we love to use is ‘subversive,’” says Blank. “What we view as our greatest achievement is that we’re able to take these subversive characters and make them [ones] that are embraced by our audience.”
And this August Showtime plans to do it all over again with the Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Linney in her upcoming series for the network, The Big C, which joins a strong fall lineup that already includes Dexter, Weeds and Nurse Jackie, among others.
The Big C features Linney as a suburban housewife and mother with cancer. “It’s a terrific, terrific show that women, in particular, are really going to identify with,” Blank says. “Everybody’s going to embrace her in that role.” Blank has been at Showtime for more than 20 years, coming aboard as executive vice president of marketing promotion in 1988 and then working his way to the top. He explains his success with a sports analogy, which he swears he doesn’t use often: I’ve always believed that you have to dress for every game,” he says. “Put everything you’ve got into your goals, whatever those may be.
“I’ve been ideally matched with opportunities here over the years because I was never the guy who wanted to do one thing. But there was another pretty important factor, and that was that I was lucky enough to come into a business—the premium TV business—as it was taking off, and that provided huge opportunities for people who were willing to work really hard, were creative and were ready to get their hands dirty.”
It wasn’t long ago that Showtime was mostly known for movies, but during Blank’s tenure, the business has grown to be about so much more than that. “It’s no secret that Showtime was maybe viewed as an also-ran brand, but that’s certainly not the case now,” says Blank. “We’ve been batting a thousand on our major scripted series in the past couple years, and whether it’s Weeds or The Tudors, they have a very special place on the dial and a very special place in the hearts and minds of our subscribers.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID LAND; GROOMING BY MICHAEL JOHNSON FOR ARTISTSBYTIMONTYPRIANO.COM
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.