BEVERLY HILLS – HBO is always good for press tour news, so let’s see what information leaks at the network’s Television Critics Association gabfest.
As usual, HBO will be represented by Co-President Richard Plepler and President of Programming Michael Lombardo. And, as usual, I’ll do my best to tell them apart!
2:05 p.m. We’ve been promised that Plepler and Lombardo have announcements.
2:05 p.m. HBO has a Brett Morgan documentary on The Rolling Stones, coinciding with the band’s 50th Anniversary.
2:05 p.m. HBO is also doing a movie with Larry David.
2:06 p.m. “As long as he keeps writing, we’ll keep producing,” Plepler says of George R.R. Martin and “Game of Thrones.” Regarding “True Blood,” Lombardo says that as long as the show keeps exciting the storytelling, they’re there.
2:06 p.m. “Doug, as of this week, is on Page 65,” Lombardo says regarding Doug Ellin and a possible “Entourage” movie.
2:08 p.m. Why move “Enlightened” and “Girls” to January? Lombardo admits that there was a hole in January produced by the abrupt cancellation of “Luck.” “We did not have anything ready for that period,” he says. Those will be HBO’s only January originals. Plepler says that both shows have dedicated audiences who will find the show.
2:09 p.m. “I don’t know that the discussion was about women, because we’ve had a fair number of woman creators,” Lombardo says of the network’s diversity. “We wait for people to come in to us with a passion project, with a show they’re dying to do,” Lombardo adds. “You can’t mandate any kind of diversity in the creation of a show,” Plepler says. He adds that Lena Dunham was sensitive to complaints about diversity last season. Lombardo notes that the network did a pilot with John Ridley and Spike Lee last year that didn’t go forward. He says they’re mindful of diversity in the creative pipeline.
2:11 p.m. The Larry David movie is NOT a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” movie. David is not playing himself, or at least not the Larry David from “Curb.” Greg Mottola is directing.
2:12 p.m. HBO just got a draft of a script for a “The Kids Are Alright.”
2:12 p.m. “Unfortunately, we can’t do everything we want to do,” Plepler says regarding the “Corrections” pilot. He praises the writing and acting. “It’s very difficult material and I thought they did a beautiful job with it,” he maintains. Lombardo says the decision wasn’t based on cost.
2:14 p.m. “People come to the brand and the brand represents distinctive quality,” Plepler says of attracting creators. He says the network’s matrix for success is “quality and excellence,” more than ratings. They want to create passionately engaged programming across all parts of the HBO audience. Lombardo specifically references “Game of Thrones” as a show they’re proud of being associated with. “We responded to the writing,” Lombardo says. “We want to be proud of everything that we greenlight and put on the air and we are proud of everything that’s on the air,” Plepler says. He references, for example, the unique voice of Lena Dunham and “Girls.”
2:17 p.m. More on diversity! Both Lombardo and Plepler mention “Treme” and “True Blood” as diverse casts. “Do I think we can do better? Absolutely,” Lombardo insists. “It’s something we’re aware of. I think we have shows that have diversity, but the truth is that we can do better,” he says.
2:18 p.m. “He has essentially carte blanche,” Plepler says of Larry David and additional seasons of “Curb.” What Larry David wants to do next is this movie. “I think he wants to do another season of ‘Curb’ if he has a great idea for another season of ‘Curb,'” Lombardo says.
2:19 p.m. Lombardo says that Danny and Jody have pitched an idea for another season of “Eastbound and Down,” but it hasn’t been written.
2:19 p.m. What are they thinking about a fourth “Treme” season? Lombardo says that they’re absolutely having conversations now with David Simon regarding if there should be a fourth season and what that fourth season would be.
2:20 p.m. “We’re very proud of it,” Plepler says of “The Newsroom,” praising Aaron Sorkin as one of the network’s original voices. He says there are 7 million people loving “Newsroom” each week. “There’s only one Aaron Sorkin and we’re very proud that he’s working for us,” he says.
2:21 p.m. Plepler says that the streaming audience for HBO is only 5 percent, but it gets closer to 25 percent when you add in OnDemand. Plepler says that “Girls” is the most viewed show on HBOGo.
2:22 p.m. What’s happening with “True Detective”? What did HBO respond to? Lombardo says it’s very much a character piece and the strength of the writing is that in a familiar drama it blew his socks off. The show is set up as an anthology. This first season narrative ends after these episodes conclude, but they haven’t had talk about what a second season would be.
2:24 p.m. HBO ended its deal with Scott Rudin just to give him more flexible, but he remains on-board for “The Newsroom” and everybody is happy.
2:24 p.m. Why does HBO renew shows, particularly comedies,” so fast? “We had seen all the episodes. We knew creatively they were strong,” Lombardo says of “Girls” and “Veep.” They were able to see already that there was an audience and that the audiences returned for second episodes. Plepler emphasizes, once again, that the ratings aren’t the top criteria. “Is it hitting part of the 30 million in a way that’s resonating?” Plepler says of the big question.
2:26 p.m. Does HBO have room for more original programming? “At this point, we’re Sunday night,” Lombardo says. HBO did, indeed, air programming on Mondays last fall with “Bored to Death” and “Enlightened,” but they realized that the network has trained people to come on Sunday nights. They’re always looking at their schedule trying to figure out the pieces and Plepler says that they still have room to add programming on Sunday nights. More programming is, as we like to say, a high class problem.
2:28 p.m. HBO has an overall deal with Jay Roach. He praises the team of Roach and Danny Strong.
2:30 p.m. “We congratulate other networks when they do good work, It takes nothing away from us,” Plepler says of cable competition.
2:30 p.m. Plepler says he wouldn’t count out quality broadcast dramas in the future. “There’s some great shows on broadcast. They weren’t nominated this year, but it’s hard to argue with why ‘The Good Wife’ wouldn’t fit into that group of shows,” Lombardo says of the absence of broadcast dramas in the Emmy field. Lombardo thought “The Following” on FOX was a “smart, well-executed show.”
2:32 p.m. “It’s over,” Lombardo says of “The Life and Times of Tim.” He looks a little sad. “We’re always looking at stuff,” Lombardo says of future animated shows.
2:32 p.m. David Milch is working on a new pilot for HBO and he has movies and miniseries on his plate. The Faulkner thing, presumably?
That’s all, folks…