BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.–HBO chief executives Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo had plenty to crow about at Thursday’s TCA press tour session. Once again, thgeir premium cable network had cleaned up at the Emmys, snaring 99 nominations, including a record 19 for the limited run series True Detective. (That tally nosed out the 18 noms gained by FX’s shot-in-Calgary drama Fargo.)
The two men spent some of their time, however, defending the Academy of Television Arts and Science’s odd category selections. Is True Detective a series or miniseries? Where do you put American Horror Story or Fargo? “I think it’s hard for ATAT, in an evolving, organic landscape, to have rules that fit every possible permutation,” said Lombardo. He feels shows should land in the categories they are pitched at to viewers. His upcoming Olive Kitteridge for example, featuring Frances McDormand, will fill the miniseries slot. True Detective was pitched as an anthology series, so it is in Emmy’s series category, where, as Plepler suggested, it will face tougher competition than if it was designated a mini. (Although Fargo is in the mini category.)
The two men also answered questions about Game of Thrones. Like, is George R.R. Martin going to be able to crank out enough books to keep up with the TV schedule? Lombardo says the series will not go off book next season, that Martin is an integral part of the creative mix and that they’ve got guys prodding him with sticks and keeping him close to his keys.
After next season, if Martin has not cranked out the next book (and at over 1000 pagers, he likely will not meet that deadline), Lombardo says “we’ll have to figure it out.” Added Plepler, “We’re not losing any sleep over that.”
As for reports Martin wants the series to end with a movie, that’s a conversation that’s “way down the road,” said Plepler.
The duo were tight lipped about who will star on the next season of True Detective. When a reporter lead by asking them to confirm it will be two men and one woman, they didn’t take the bait. Lombardo kind of cooled expectations by suggesting every round of this deal does not have to by headlined by major movie stars. “We’re going to do the next season with puppets,” he joked.
They did say the first two scripts are in, they read better than last year’s, and that a casting announcement could come as early as next week.
They talked a bit about the three shows wrapping up this year (Boardwalk Empire, True Blood and Treme). There was the usual, “right thing to end with some creative integrity” comment. They agreed, again, that Deadwood ended a season too early.
They said they were “really pleased” with Silicon Valley and The Leftovers. The latter pulled close to 7 million viewers for its premiere, said Lombardo. They described the harrowing drama as “a big swing” and a “tough show” full of “pain, despair and sadness.”
And what about Curb? Lombardo said he ran into Larry David recently and after some small talk asked if he should just emotionally get the series out of his head. David apparently indicated he was still interested in doing another season–just don’t ask when. “As long as he’s still thinking about it,” says Lombardo, “we’ve got a place for him.”
Speaking of endless waits, Plepler also told reporters that Hollywood-based series David Chase is working on is still incubating at HBO–four years after it was first teased.