It’s time for my first Television Critics Association press tour live-blog of Summer 2013.
We’ve got an HBO executive session with Richard Plepler, CEO, and Michael Lombardo, President, HBO Programming.
2:03 p.m. “As far as I’m concerned it can go on as long as there are stories to tell,” Lombardo says of the future of “Game of Thrones.” He said that he understands the issues with the shows potentially lapping the books, but he’s not worried there either.
2:04 p.m. What’s happening with “Criminal Justice” with James Gandolfini and is David Chase’s Old Hollywood project still going? Plepler says that Chase is “working on it,” script-wise. “I can’t imagine us airing the pilot with James in it, but we’re having conversations with Steve Zaillian about how to proceed,” Lombardo says of the show’s future.
2:06 p.m. When will the last episode of “Treme” air? Fall. “It’s coming right after ‘Boardwalk Empire,'” Lombardo says. Actually: December 1 is your “Treme” premiere.
2:07 p.m. Michael Mann is working on a movie, so there are no plans for another season of his documentary series. But if he came to them and said he wanted to do more
2:09 p.m. “We live very comfortably amidst competition and we think there’s plenty of room for other people to do good work.” Plepler says of competition from Netflix and whatnot. He references the network’s huge Emmy haul.
2:10 p.m. “What we do with that in the future will depend on a variety of factors,” Plepler says of plans going forward with HBOGo going a la carte.
2:10 p.m. David Milch has been working on a pilot with Art Linson that may go into production and they’re talking pilot at this point. He has done one feature adaptation of a Faulkner work, but that’s not going anywhere just yet.
2:11 p.m. Question about the cancellation of “Enlightened.” Lombardo says that they were disappointed that “Enlightened” didn’t grow in its second season, even though they think it’s “a beautiful show.” Lombardo says that the story had “come to a natural resting place and we thought it was best to end it where we did.” “It was really about choices and a creative decision,” Lombardo insists.
2:13 p.m. What are the Season 2 chances for “Family Tree”? “It is a co-production with The BBC,” Lombardo reminds us and says that the BBC is interested in doing another season. “No decision’s been made and we’re just starting the conversation with BBC about it,” Lombardo says.
2:14 p.m. Asked if HBO will now be hesitant to do future shows with animals, Lombardo says, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” “I’m not particularly interested in a pitch where animals are critical to the storytelling,” Lombardo says.
2:15 p.m. Lombardo praises “Eastbound & Down” as “a slow build” and says that it actually isn’t a ratings challenged show. Basically, the creators wanted to wrap this show and possibly do a different show. Plepler praises it as “a passion show” and adds, “For us, it delivered exactly what we hoped it would.” “All I can say is that you’ll find Kenny struggling with marriage, suburbia and his continued demons,” Lombardo says as a tease.
2:17 p.m. “I think the odds are excellent. We’re very happy with the show,” Lombardo says of a third season for “Newsroom.” The only impediment is Aaron Sorkin’s schedule and he tells us that he’d be shocked if we don’t get an announcement soon. Lombardo adds that “passion engagement” for “Newsroom” has been growing.
2:18 p.m. “They’re gonna take a look at high school life. All I can say. It’s a really great, funny, quintessentially Danny/Jody idea,” Lombardo says of the aforementioned Jody Hill/Danny McBride project that will follow “Eastbound & Down,” possibly.
2:19 p.m. “It’s a look at a dynastic New York media family. It’s a look at power. It’s a look at the complexity of power in the modern urban life,” Plepler says of the Milch/Linson pilot.
2:19 p.m. “She’ll be out on the campaign trail,” Lombardo teases of the third season of “Veep.” He says it’s gratifying that “Veep” grew in its second year in terms of Emmy attention and audience passion. Plepler says they could feel “Veep” move to “the next level of Zeitgeist attention.”
2:21 p.m. Lombardo calls Twitter attention “fairly demographically determined,” comparing the difference in Twitter attention between “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire.” “It’s gratifying to see on certain shows the enormous impact it has on culture,” Lombardo says, but he adds that it won’t have a role in network decisions.
2:22 p.m. They have a script in for a Fatty Arbuckle movie and Eric Stonestreet is still attached, but it isn’t moving forward yet.
2:23 p.m. Plepler is totally cool with giving out ratings information and Lombardo agrees that giving tangible ratings information is a fair thing to do. “That said, ‘Girls’ is no less of a hit to us at 5 million viewers than ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is at 8 million,” Plepler says. Yay, transparency.
2:24 p.m. Direction question about how they feel about Netflix not giving information. “It’s curious. I don’t know what more to make of it,” Lombardo says. “But I guess the press is fine with the answer, because there doesn’t seem to be a follow-up answer.” Zing on us. “I think curious is exactly the right word, but quite frankly it’s not our business, it’s there business and we leave it at that,” Plepler says.
2:26 p.m. They’re still refining HBOGo and trying to figure out how to give more value to users. “The issue is time and resources,” Lombardo says. They’ve had conversations with showrunners on the subject.
2:27 p.m. What are their hopes for the Jonathan Groff series? Are they looking at it as a “gay” series? “Well, there are gay men in it,” Lombardo says. “It felt really fresh and powerful,” Lombardo says of the pilot. “I hope it finds a passionate audience. It’s a special show,” Lombardo says. Plepler says it’s about relationships and finding your way home as much as about sexuality.
2:28 p.m. “Nothing is going on with ‘Transporter,'” Lombardo says, claiming that Cinemax is not going forward with its involvement with the “Transporter” TV show. And they continue to look at a “Hunted” spinoff that is built around Melissa George’s character, but isn’t directly related.
2:29 p.m. HBO wants to do more dramas about adult women, though Lombardo and Plepler notes that “Game of Thrones” and “True Blood” do very well with women. But they’re concerned about getting more female-centric shows on the network.
2:30 p.m. Does “Boardwalk Empire” have an end-game? Lombardo says the upcoming season is really strong and they haven’t had any conversations about an end.
2:31 p.m. The “Hunted”-related project could be a series project or it could be a series of movies. Unclear.
2:31 p.m. “I don’t think we look at those movies and go ‘Ah, Hollywood biopics do well,'” Lombardo says of the success of “Behind the Candelabra” and the Phil Spector movie. “We just try to deliver engaging, smart movies,” Lombardo adds.
That’s all, folks…