After a tumultuous fourth season of Project Greenlight that saw producer Matt Damon make some tone deaf comments about diversity, Damon has revealed that HBO has cancelled the filmmaking reality series. The actor made the announcement during an interview with the Associated Press while on his promotional tour for Jason Bourne, noting that he and his co-producers — including Ben Affleck — were proud of the show, and hope to see it resurrected elsewhere in the future.
“I really liked it and thought that the show went great,” Damon told the AP of season four. “I’m not one to question (HBO’s programming). They do such a great job. But we have to take it out again.”
Some would dispute Damon’s characterization of season four as “great,” especially co-producer Effie Brown, who famously sparred with Damon during production over the issue of selecting a more diverse filmmaking team to tackle the season’s chosen film project (which eventually morphed into The Leisure Class). Brown had advocated for the directing duo of Leo Angelos and Kristen Brancaccio — and Asian man and a white woman — to helm the feature, especially in light of the fact that Brancaccio had pointed out the troubling treatment of one of the film’s central characters, a black prostitute named Harmony.
Brown wanted the chosen director to handle the character delicately, a perspective she felt the diverse duo could offer; Damon shot back that while diversity is important, ” … [W]hen we’re talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not in the casting of the show.” Damon later apologized for those remarks. Director Jason Mann was ultimately selected for the gig (it was his short film that was rewritten into the final feature); he and Brown also had disagreements throughout the production. Upon release, The Leisure Class was not well-received.
HBO released a statement about the cancellation, claiming that the show’s 2015 return was always meant to be a one-off season (no mention of the low ratings and public disapproval factoring into their decision not to bring it back, though). The premium cable outlet said it “decided in early 2016 another season did not make sense for us. We are proud of the show and were pleased with its run throughout the years.”
Damon told the AP that he and his fellow producers think Project Greenlight can have new life elsewhere, and are particularly interested in seeing it move to a streaming platform like Amazon or Netflix. Here’s hoping he listens more closely to Brown the next time (if she even wants to participate).