The cable provider has become the television maker. When satellite television was first launched way back in the 1970s, it was in an effort to expand services and help all those unfortunate people that weren't able to get over the air television. Dish and Direct TV have been fighting with television programmers, cable or otherwise, since. But with everyone and their mom getting into the television production game, it was only a matter of time before Direct TV would as well.
Last week Direct TV announced a whopper of a new scripted program that will hit the satellite airwaves this fall. Full Circle, the upcoming Direct TV vehicle, is an original television series scripted by award-winning playwright Neil LaBute. And if you are thinking to yourself, "Wasn't Abby just talking about LaBute and a non-traditional video offering like.. two weeks ago?" Yes, yes I was.
But this new show will be LaBute's first foray into television and Direct TV has put some moolah behind it in terms of cast. The show will star a large ensemble including Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), David Boreanaz (Bones), Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee), Devon Gearhart (The Wait), Billy Campbell (The Killing, Killing Lincoln), Kate Walsh (Private Practice), Noah Silver (The Borgias), Ally Sheedy (Welcome to the Rileys), Cheyenne Jackson (Behind the Candelabra) and Robin Weigert (Sons of Anarchy).
The series will air on Direct TV's AUDIENCE channel, arguably the least creative name for a channel of all time ("Hmm.. what should we call it? Well who watches TV? Audiences!"), which airs mostly acquired programs such as Damages and 24 as well as some sports and concerts. But this is not AUDIENCE's first scripted show, as I am understanding it. Currently, it is airing a Direct TV program called Rogue, which stars Thandie Newton. I was as shocked as you are, considering she is a big star right now and I just recently read an interview with her and she did not mentioned this venture at all. If Rogue was Direct TV getting its feet wet, Full Circle is about dunking in all the way.
Full Circle will run for 10 episodes and feature a conversation between two characters that will ultimately tie each of their relationships to another character in the next episode and so on and so on, until the audience discovers how each of these characters' lives are connected, like Pulp Fiction but way more pretentious and, assumedly, slow.
I like Neil LaBute as a playwright and I am willing to give him some benefit of the doubt. That being said, I saw a short film of his during 2011's Manhattan Short Film Festival that focused on a conversation between Julia Stiles and some other person, and it was terribly boring. It was a film of a play, which an interesting movie does not make. This concept sounds exactly like the forthcoming Full Circle, but again I will refrain from judgment until I see it for myself.
In light of all the water-testing going on in content delivery, Direct TV throwing its hat in the ring is a good move for them. Competition is fierce and getting worse by the minute. But will a television show scripted by a playwright that some people have heard of, starring a few actors that are somewhat popular and David Boreanaz, enough to get cable buyers to make the switch? I doubt it.