The president of HBO programming, Michael Lombardo, addressed reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. From making more Game of Thrones to bringing back Curb Your Enthusiasm to cancelling Looking, Lombardo covered a lot of ground. Also, is Jon Snow dead? Yes. Is Lombardo disappointed with True Detective? No. Here are the biggest HBO developments from TCA.
As Game of Thrones hunkers down to shoot season six in Belfast, the head of HBO programming shared that the show will probably go through season eight.
“‘Seven seasons and out’ has never been a part of the conversation,” Lombardo said. “The question is, how much beyond the seventh season are we going to do?” He elaborated that the fate of the series is dependent upon how long showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss want to keep going, but they are “feeling like there’s probably two more years after [season] six.”
As for the fate of Jon Snow, Lombardo said that Snow is definitely dead. “Dead is dead is dead. He be dead… [from] everything I’ve seen, heard and read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.” Of course, dead is “dead,” but does that mean dead is dead?
When asked if HBO would be interested in a Game of Thrones prequel, Lombardo told reporters that, while HBO is open to anything Benioff and Weiss want to do, they need to focus on the next few years of Thrones before planning an offshoot.
A reporter also asked Lombardo about the controversial violence in season five, which he explained was critical to the storytelling. “This show has had violence from the first episode,” Lombardo stated. “I can’t speak to any single person’s particular taste, but I think the show is phenomenal. It went to 20 million viewers this year; it went up over one million viewers from the prior season. The show continues to grow dramatically. There are no two showrunners who are more careful about not overstepping what they think the line is — and everybody has their own line.”
It’s been well established on Rotten Tomatoes that critics are far less enthusiastic about the second season of True Detective than the first– season one is Certified Fresh at 85 percent, while season two is only 65 percent. And that’s just fine by Lombardo, who defended the series, citing that it’s drawing 12 million viewers a week.
“I had been on vacation,” Lombardo said. “I came back today to see you, all and I became aware that some of you had tweeted [and] written some comments about True Detective — that you weren’t enjoying it as much as you thought you would… I think Nic [Pizzolatto] is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today.”
Lombardo also said that season two has an ending “as satisfying as any show I’ve seen,” which will air Sunday, August 9. As for season three, HBO wants to do it if Pizzolatto does. “I’ve already called him and told him if he wants to have a season three, let’s start talking.”
Curb Your Enthusiasm fans have clung to the hope that Larry David might come back to HBO for another season, despite the lack of… well, enthusiasm from its creator, Larry David. HBO chief Lombardo, however, remains optimistic after meeting with David the day his Broadway premiere for Fish In The Dark. During that encounter, David showed Lombardo a notebook and asked, “Do you know what this is? This is the ‘next season’ notebook.”
Lombardo admitted that he hasn’t heard from David since, but that he’s fairly sure that there’s more to the Curb story. “I don’t think it’s out of his system,” he said. “When he has something to say, he will come back. I certainly see this as a continuing dialogue with him — a long one, but a continuing one.”
Due to low ratings, HBO cancelled its half hour dramedy Looking in March after two seasons, but promises to finish the story with a two-hour movie. Starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett, the Looking movie will appear sometime in the first half of 2016.
“Ending that show was, on a personal level, very painful for me,” Lombardo admitted. “I thought the show, creatively, was really doing something that I hadn’t seen on any other show, particularly dealing with gay lives… As a gay man, I was very proud that there was a show that felt like it was dealing very honestly and openly with gay men and their lives, without putting them into a comedic mode.”
The movie is written and production begins this fall.
For six years, HBO has teased a new project called A Ribbon of Dreams from Sopranos creator David Chase, and this week brings more encouragement.
“He’s writing. I have seen pages… I think there’s something phenomenal there,” Lombardo told reporters, explaining that, in part, the delay stems from deciding what form the project should take. “I think he was figuring out the format. Is it a miniseries, a limited series, or an open-ended series? What he showed us is basically two hours worth of material… and I trust I’ll see something by the end of the year, and we’ll go from there. But I fully expect we’ll be back up here during my tenure with David Chase and a new show.”
The title A Ribbon of Dream refers to an Orson Welles quote in which he described film as ‘a ribbon of dreams,’ and is about two young men who begin working in Hollywood in 1913 and eventually cross paths with some of the silver screen’s biggest names, including D.W. Griffith, John Ford, John Wayne, Billy Wilder, and Bette Davis.