TCA: HBO Report

HBO’s presidents talks about renewals, a shift for “Girls” and announces a Larry David TV movie.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Today’s HBO presentation for the Television Critics Association began with some announcements. “Girls” and “Enlightened” will be paired when both return in January. HBO co-president Richard Plepler announced a deal with Larry David for a movie on HBO, with Greg Mottola directing, title and further details TBD.

“It is not a ‘Curb’ movie,” president of programming Michael Lombardo confirmed later in the executive panel, cryptically adding, “He is not playing the Larry David from ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ no.”

We know getting David to do another season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is always a mini-battle, and HBO is patient in waiting for him. Lombardo has every expectation for ninth season.

“After the last season of ‘Curb,’ Larry sat down and said what is it I want to do, and this film is what he wanted to do,”  noted Lombardo. “He wants to do another season of ‘Curb’ if he has a great idea for another season of ‘Curb.’”

Lombardo also announced a new Rolling Stones documentary by Brett Morgan for the band’s 50th anniversary. “This documentary has the full involvement of the four current band members – Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ron – as well as former band members Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor,” Lombardo said. “We’ll follow the band from their early club days through their arrival as the greatest band in the world. It’s our second time with the Rolling Stones. We had them in concert 10 years ago.”

Now, on to HBO’s returning shows. Pepler reiterated the network’s usual stance on “Game of Thrones,” which is closely tied with George R. R. Martin’s decisions as an author. “We’ve said to George and he’s said back to us, as long as he keeps writing, we’ll keep producing,” Plepler said. “He seems very excited with that proposition. As long as he sees fit to keep creating, so will we.”

“True Blood” creator Alan Ball is taking a step back after five years, but Lombardo thinks the show still has a strong future. “‘True Blood’ is doing well,” Lombardo said. “This will be the first year Alan Ball’s taking a step back. I think creatively they’re still engaged, excited by the storytelling and i think as long as it continues to be performing with the consumer, but more importantly exciting the storytellers, I think we’re there.”

The new pairing of “Girls” and “Enlightened,” breaking up the “Girls/Veep” block, came as a result of the sudden cancellation of “Luck.” “I think when we made the decision to basically pull the plug on ‘Luck’ while they were in season, we did not have a backup plan,” Lombardo said. “We did have a hole in January. Our development schedules take the time they take. We have new shows coming up next year but we did not have anything ready for that period, so a decision was made that ‘Girls’ would be ready, ‘Enlightened’ was ready and we could put them on in January.”

Another surprise was the renewal of “Eastbound and Down,” considering Jody Hill and Danny McBride themselves said they intended season three to be the end. Lombardo said they are just starting to write the new season.

“They’re sitting down right now,” Lombardo said. “They’ve pitched an idea that they have for this season. Danny and Jody are just sitting down right now. Things happen in the writing process. I’d be more comfortable talking to you in January.”

“Treme” returns for a third season this fall. Lombardo said they would have to jump on a fourth season quickly from a pure production standpoint. “Customarily we would make a decision after the show premieres,” Lombardo said. “We produce the show ourselves so that’s fine. We’re having conversations with David [Simon] about should there be a fourth season and what a fourth season would look like. There are [factors] about producing a show like that in New Orleans, i.e. hurricane season. We’ll have a deciison so we don’t miss shooting around hurricane season if we choose to.”

HBO recently ended a deal with producer Scott Rudin, who was part of developing their newest hit “The Newsroom.” Plepler said there are no hard feelings.

“Scott was a great producer, remains attached to ‘Newsroom,’” Plepler said. “The question was just capacity. We right now blessedly have a lot in the hopper, we have a lot in line to do. He wanted to move on some things we perhaps weren’t ready to move on so we felt it was right to give him that flexibility.”

Coming up, HBO is still developing a series version of Lisa Cholodenko’s film The Kids Are All Right. “We just got the draft in a couple weeks ago and we’re continuing to develop it with her,” Lombardo said.

A highly anticipated HBO series is “True Detective” starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. Lombardo explained why it was an easy fit for HBO.

“I think the strength of the writing in ‘True Detective’ is that in a genre, not just on HBO generally, that’s well trafficked,” Lombardo said. “You read something like ‘True Detective’ and it blows your socks off. The cast, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, Cary Fukunaga directing was a no brainer.”

Expect the first season to be a complete story, with an entirely new one in a second season. “The idea right now is that this particular narrative ends after the episodes are completed,” Lombardo added.

The sports series “Hard Knox” also returns August 7, focusing on the Miami Dolphins.