Showtime has released the details for two of its upcoming shows, Penny Dreadful and Trending Down, and both just further prove that the premium cable network has become the destination for movie stars making the switch to TV. Penny Dreadful is a horror drama created by John Logan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Gladiator and will star Josh Hartnett and Eva Green. Trending Down is a comedy produced by and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Kathryn Hahn starring as well.
While a few of these stars have appeared on TV series before, they are all largely known for their work in films, and taking regular roles on a TV series is surprising. It does make sense that they chose series on Showtime, as the network has other shows with celebrity leads. Most notably there's Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy on Shameless, Don Cheadle on House of Lies and Liev Schreiber on the upcoming Ray Donovan. Fellow premium cable network HBO has its share of big names too, with Judd Apatow producing Girls, Jeff Daniels on The Newsroom and Steve Buscemi on Boardwalk Empire.
It's easy to see why Showtime and HBO attract actors like Hoffman and Hartnett. Most of their shows only have about 12 episodes per season, leaving plenty of time between seasons to pursue film projects. Then there's also the idea that subscription based channels leave more room for creative freedom, since they rely less on ratings than basic cable and broadcast networks.
Look for Penny Dreadful and Trending Down on Showtime next spring, and keep an eye out for any more big name stars that may head to premium cable soon.