Sometimes we get executive sessions with the HBO brass. Sometimes we don’t. On Saturday (Aug. 7) afternoon, the Television Critics Association will get to pepper questions at Co-President Richard Plepler and Programming President Michael Lombardo.
Expect questions regarding “Game of Thrones,” “In Treatment” and “Luck.” But those are just guesses.
For the actual discussed topics, click through…
3:35 p.m. The panel for HBO’s excellent “Boardwalk Empire” just completed. Great show. Spirited panel.
3:36 p.m. “In Treatment” is returning at some point in October. Also returning in the fall, as previously announced, “Bored to Death” and “Eastbound & Down.”
3:40 p.m. Clips coming from “Enlightened” (Laura Dern/Mike White), “Mildred Pierce” (miniseries with Kate Winslet, based on the James M. Cain novel), “Luck” and… finally… “Game of Thrones” (15 seconds)…
3:42 p.m. Well “Enlightened” sure looks like a Showtime series.
3:43 p.m. “Mildred Pierce” looks handsome and like the winner of many, many Emmys.
3:44 p.m. “Luck” emphasizes the cast and milieu more than the David Milch writing.
3:45 p.m. And as for “Game of Thrones”? Well, it’s just the teaser HBO already posted on the website.
3:45 p.m. The new Alan Ball pilot will shoot at the end of the month. If they pick that pilot up, he would still remain on “True Blood” on a day-to-day basis. That would still be his primary responsibility.
3:47 p.m. Why premiere “Boardwalk Empire” in September opposite network shows? “We thought, you know what? It will resonate in the fall,” Lombardo says, adding that there’s room for good programming. Plepler observes that first-run viewership is only a small part of the equation for HBO anyway.
3:48 p.m. On “Eastbound & Down,” Lombardo promises “Kenny in a new environment, with new challenges.” He promises that we will be “Muy allegre as they say in Mexico.”
3:49 p.m. Regarding “Game of Thrones,” Lombardo acknowledges it isn’t a genre they’ve done before. He praises the writers — David Benioff and Daniel Weiss — and says that the script was “an enormously compelling read.” He adds that it wasn’t the genre they responded to, but the storytelling. Plepler quotes Benioff as saying that “Game of Thrones” is really about power and that “you’ll forget where you are very quickly.”
3:50 p.m. The premiere date for “Game of Thrones” remains Spring 2011, nothing more specific than that.
3:51 p.m. Plepler says there’s nothing you can do about the Emmy Gods, referring to “Treme.” He mentions Khandi Alexander and Wendell Pierce and Melissa Leo in saying that nobody who watched the performances could think they weren’t award-worthy. Lombardo adds that David Simon is so accustomed to being Emmy snubbed that he would have been uncomfortable if nominations had actually come.
3:53 p.m. Much excitement from Plepler and Lombardo regarding the Bruce Springsteen documentary “The Promise,” which will premiere on HBO this fall.
3:54 p.m. How do they make sure that “Luck” is more “Deadwood” and less “John From Cincinnati”? Lombardo makes it clear that “John” was developed before they were in their seats. David Milch has a clear vision for the first season. “There’s a confidence in the storytelling that was enormously compelling,” Lombardo says. They love the script and love the world. “There’s no question that we take the journey with him,” Lombardo says. Plepler adds that Milch is writing “Luck” from his gut, while “John” may have been more from his head, more cerebral. Both men agree that the show will be accessible even if you aren’t a horse-racing fan. Lombardo emphasizes that it isn’t all about gambling. There are trainers and jockeys and owners.
3:57 p.m. Plepler says that they’re still talking to people at the Weinstein Company about doing two movies for “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” adding that they’re even developing two scripts. Lombardo says, though, that the property is dead as a series, but not dead in general.
3:58 p.m. Lombardo tells us that “Mildred Pierce” has finished shooting. Todd Haynes has been on a two-week break and will begin editing now. HBO is eying March/April of next spring for a premiere. Lombardo says that it’s a “relevant look at a woman struggling to survive in a period of economic distress,” that the Cain novel feels “remarkably modern.” His own memories of the film are of it being campy and dated. He says that the miniseries will *not* be noir-ish in the way the film is.
4:00 p.m. Plepler can’t explain why “True Blood” has built in the way it has, saying you can’t explain what will hit the zeitgeist. He calls the show addictive and praises Alan Ball’s contributions. Mention is given to the way Comic-Con audiences have responded to “True Blood” in the past.
4:01 p.m. Plepler raves about the marketing effort on “True Blood.” Apparently a Rolling Stone cover is coming up. Lombardo says that in addition to being rabid, the audience is picky as well. He knows that “Game of Thrones” fans are early anticipating the show, but they’ve also set a high bar for success. Plepler agrees that this is a double-edged sword. He refers to the “power of amplication” and says that he or they go onto Twitter post-“True Blood” episodes to follow reaction.
4:04 p.m. Lombardo says that after this season of “Entourage,” they’ll do a shorter next season to tying things up for the series. The producers want to do a film, but they only want to do it when the storytelling makes sense. Lombardo adds that Doug Ellin has already been pitching them other shows.
4:05 p.m. To clarify, Lombardo says that next summer will “definitely” be the last season of “Entourage.”
4:06 p.m. Lombardo backs down on previous claims about paying attention to Twitter. He says *some* people probably monitor Twitter, but he shies from any contention that he actually uses it himself. Plepler adds that focus groups won’t make a difference on picking up shows and whatnot.
4:08 p.m. Lombardo says that HBO’s interest in the entertainment world is coincidental. They respond to writers and pitches and strong voices.
4:08 p.m. How did the “Luck” pilot go? “This will either be magic or mayhem,” Lombardo recalls thinking before they shot. But he felts it was ultimately magic. He says that the creative environment was productive and that Dustin Hoffman and David Milch loved working together. “With Dustin, he has a producer credit,” Lombardo says, pointing out that the Oscar winner wants to be heard.
4:11 p.m. Plepler says that David Simon won’t change his “one year at a time” plan for “Treme” in order to touch on recent events in the Gulf. The network has no plans to tie “Treme” and Spike Lee’s new New Orleans documentary together.
4:12 p.m. What’s up with “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? “Whatever Larry David wants to keep doing, we’re happy to keep doing with Larry David,” Plepler says. They continue to be comfortable with David’s one-season-at-a-time pace. All they know is that “Curb” will return at some point in 2011.
4:13 p.m. Lombardo says they aren’t in the same business as the networks when it comes to scheduling. It comes down to what’s ready and when it’s ready and how things can be put together. They don’t necessarily expect the “Boardwalk Empire” audience to lead into “Bored to Death” and “Eastbound & Down.” That’s not necessarily how HBO audiences watch programming.
That’s it, kids…