Gelber launched into his elevator pitch: Showtime had agreed to stream the first two episodes of the series to nonsubscribers, and regardless, having names like Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, and Harrison Ford tweeting about the project would broaden its reach. Vanity Fair, Gelber said, would be profiling the film. “More people will know this is being taken seriously than will see the series,” he said.

Gelber moved on to other questions, but when I asked Nicholas what he thought of the response, he shrugged. “He didn’t answer my question,” he said.

“Showtime has 15 million subscribers,* but they’re not going to get all 15 million,” Nicholas continued. “If they get 5 to 10 percent of that, that’s amazing, and that’s two million. That’s the nature of the issue: It’s hard. People watch Showtime for movies and to be entertained. They’re not looking to be educated. Vanity Fair is great, but it’s something that’s read east of the Mississippi by about four people. I read it and I love it, but I’m the choir. We have this huge problem where a huge percentage of the population doesn’t even believe climate change is happening: It’s too overwhelming, it’s too big, and people don’t know what to do.” He paused for a moment. “We’ll see if it works,” he said. “I hope it does. Something has to.”


* Clarification: Showtime has 23 million subscribers, not 15 million as referenced in this quote.

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Alexis Sobel Fitts is a senior writer at CJR. Follow her on Twitter at @fittsofalexis.