Here’s How Showtime Got David Lynch to Revive Twin Peaks

Reversing the usual pitch, the network's president did the begging

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Showtime had the good fortune to make its Television Critics Association winter press tour appearance less than 24 hours after its freshman series The Affair won two Golden Globes Awards, including the prize for best drama series.

But the network's biggest TCA headlines involved a show that won't even premiere until 2016: Twin Peaks, which creators David Lynch and Mark Frost are reviving as a nine-episode limited series 25 years after the original went off the air.

"We almost broke the Internet last fall" when the deal was announced, said Showtime Networks president David Nevins, who then proceeded to try and do it again by bringing out Kyle MacLachlan—dressed as FBI Agent Dale Cooper—and saying he will reprise his role in the revival.

"I think you need a damn good cup of coffee!" MacLachlan told Nevins, referencing one of Cooper's signature lines. He then bid reporters farewell by saying, "May the forest be with you!" (While MacLachlan was the first cast member revealed, Nevins said that many other actors from the original run will also return.)

Nevins said that when he first met with Lynch and Frost about the project, in a twist on the usual pitching process, "I was kind of begging them and hoping to pass muster with David Lynch."

What sealed the deal: Lynch sparked to the "violent, weird" artwork in Nevins' office (not a big surprise, if you've ever seen any Lynch films, or Peaks itself), including one piece featuring "a bookshelf falling on a young girl; it's unclear which direction it's going. I think he liked it, and we were off in business." Nevins' only demand of Lynch: that he agree to direct all nine episodes, which he did.

The timing for the show's revival seems perfect, given the "I'll see you again in 25 years" reference in Twin Peaks' series finale. Lynch "pays attention to that kind of numerology in a big way," Nevins said.

Now that the deal is clinched, Nevins says his job boils down to "more or less, writing checks and leaving them alone. It's David's show, it's Mark's show, I will be the grateful recipient of it," he said. "I will say that they have been very specific in promising closure, and that's exciting. … From what I've seen, this is going to live up to expectations and then some."

Production will begin later this year, and while locations haven't been finalized, "I hope to go back to Washington," where the series was shot, said Nevins.

While Twin Peaks' limited series model has gained traction in the past year, with shows like True Detective and Fargo, Nevins said that aside from Peaks, he is resisting that trend. He feels it goes against Showtime's business model.

"The core of our business, and what I believe that vast majority of audiences want … [is] to make a long-term relationship with characters that they can grow and change with," he said. "We're a subscription service, so our business is constructed on: fall in love and keep paying."

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV/Media Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.