HBO’s Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler Talk GAME OF THRONES Season 5 and 6, TRUE DETECTIVE Season 2, Progress on WESTWORLD, and More

by     Posted 164 days ago

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While at the HBO portion of the TCA Press Tour, President of Programming Michael Lombardo and Chairman and CEO Richard Plepler took some time to talk about new and returning programming.  During the interview, they spoke about how they’re not at all concerned about Game of Thrones getting further ahead than George R.R. Martin’s writing, that they plan to stick with the series until the story is finished, that Nic Pizzolatto’s first two scripts for the new season of True Detective are even more exciting than the first season, that they expect a casting announcement to be made in the next week, how they feel things are going with both Silicon Valley and The Leftovers, their strategy for drama, going forward, the progress of Westworld, and the status of the Ryan Murphy series, Open.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.

game-of-thrones-laws-gods-men-peter-dinklageDo you have any concerns about George R.R. Martin finishing the books before Game of Thrones catches up with him?

MICHAEL LOMBARDO:  Obviously, George is an integral part of the creative team on this, so with respect to next season, every step and every move is being choreographed, very closely, with him.  Certainly after next year, we will have to figure it out with George, if his book’s not finished.  We’re in conversations with him, but we’re not concerned about it.

RICHARD PLEPLER:  And of equal importance, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are in constant conversation with him.  They’re working, as they always have, very closely to model the future.  So, we’re not losing any sleep over that, at all.

You’ve picked up Game of Thrones for Seasons 5 and 6, which are going to cover the next book.  Is there anything you can conceive of, that would prevent HBO from carrying out the entire run of the story?

PLEPLER:  No.  

LOMBARDO:  We’re committed to it, and Dan and Dave are committed to it.  So, as long as David and Dan are in, as they are, we’re happy. 

RICHARD PLEPLER:  Our line to George has always been, “You keep writing, and we’ll keep making the show.”

So, just because you haven’t picked up beyond Season 6, it’s no indication that there is a possibility of it ending there?

LOMBARDO:  No, we’re not talking, at this point, about ending the show in the next two years.

What can you say about the first two scripts for the new season of True Detective?

LOMBARDO:  The two scripts that we have are – and I hate to jinx it — more exciting than the first season.  Nic [Pizzolatto] is an incredibly talented writer, and he’s blown us away with the first two episodes.  We’re in conversations now, on the cast.  I assume at least some announcements will be happening in the next week.

silicon-valley-signaling-riskHow do you feel Silicon Valley and The Leftovers are going?

LOMBARDO:  We’re really pleased with both of them.  I think Silicon Valley is an unexpected delight and joy.  With comedy, it’s tough to find something that’s smart, fresh and funny, and casting is critical.  It’s been a really happy experience.  The press responded to it and the audience responded to it, and we couldn’t be happier.  And The Leftovers is really a terrific show.  I think Damon [Lindelof] is one of the most talented writer-showrunners out there.  I think it was a big swing.  The first episode is already up around 7 million viewers.  It’s a tough show, in the sense that it deals with some painful and challenging human emotions, like pain, despair and sadness, but creatively, the show is really exceptional.

Both True Blood and Boardwalk Empire will conclude their runs this year, leaving you with a vacuum in the drama line-up.  What is your strategy for drama, going forward?

LOMBARDO:  The truth is, we respond to quality.  The lesson for us, from True Detective, is that sometimes it comes in different forms.  Sometimes it’s more of an anthology series than a more traditional series.  Sometimes it’s in a mini-series form.  What we’ve definitely learned is when quality comes, don’t worry about the package that it’s in.  The truth of the matter is that you hope your choices and your development leads to a mix of things.  We’re about to pilot a show that you’d call a franchise show, with Westworld.  And we have a number of other projects poised to go forward that are more traditional, grounded dramas.  What we’ve always bet on is variety and quality, and that’s what we’ll do going forward, as well.

boardwalk-empire-steve-buscemiWhat is the progress of Westworld, and how similar will it be to the film?

LOMBARDO:  We hope that we’re going to start shooting this summer.  We’re casting right now, and announcements will come out when those deals happen.  It’s similar to the film, only in construct.  Obviously, it takes place sometime in the unspecified future, in an amusement park populated by robots.  Beyond that, it’s its own thing.  The script is one of the more exciting scripts we’ve read, in a very, very long time.  Tonally, it’s very different.  At the same time, it has some of the basic elements that make the idea of it really exciting. 

What is the status of the Ryan Murphy series, Open?

LOMBARDO:  Ryan is in New Orleans doing American Horror Story.  Our hope is that, in the fall, when the actors become available to do some more shooting on the pilot, that we can try to figure it out.  Our experience with Ryan has been nothing but exciting and productive, so we’d love nothing more than to figure out something with the show.  We both agree that there’s some stuff that needs to be done.




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  • http://www.collider.com/ DNAsplitter

    Westworld a TV show on HBO? SOLD! Loved that film when I was a kid.

    • SRJ

      And it’s from Jonathan Nolan. Dude knows more than a thing or two about AI!

  • milo

    Weird how they didn’t clarify when the question mentioned seasons 5 and 6 being the next book. There has been various rumors and debate about that, with some people thinking the opposite, that the next two books would be combined into one season. I think that’s pushing it but I could see the books 4 and 5 intermingled over two seasons. There’s a lot of stuff with secondary characters in the fourth and fifth books and they are light on some of the main characters (which the show could expand on, they are already moving away from the books in many ways) so it’s hard to see them continuing to do two seasons per book.

    • the king of comedy

      George R.R. Martin said that book 5 was almost as large as book 3 and for that reasson it migh be able to have enough material for two seasons, wich would mean that book 4 and 5 could be used for 3 seasons, most of the fans are sure that book 4 and 5 have so little material that they will be combined to cover only 1 season, but other than that nothing official has being said. I think like you, book 4 and 5 can cover two seasons, and maybe the first part of book 6 wich will cover 2 big battles can be used to end season 6, and keep the rest of book 6 for season 7.

      • Fanamir

        The problem with that line of thinking, Fanamir, is that HBO has already stated that their plan is to do the whole series in seven seasons. Therefore, either season 7 has to be books 6 and 7 combined, or season 5 has to be books 4 and 5 combined. I’m willing to bet on the latter. This is very concerning, because that means that they only have one season each for books 6 and 7, which means they’ll probably have to drop a lot of plot points already introduced onto the show to fit it in. Which means, even if the eventual book ending is epic, the show ending could be like the end to American Horror Story: Asylum, except spoiling the books too.

      • Fanamir

        The problem with that line of thinking, Fanamir, is that HBO has already stated that their plan is to do the whole series in seven seasons. Therefore, either season 7 has to be books 6 and 7 combined, or season 5 has to be books 4 and 5 combined. I’m willing to bet on the latter. This is very concerning, because that means that they only have one season each for books 6 and 7, which means they’ll probably have to drop a lot of plot points already introduced onto the show to fit it in. Which means, even if the eventual book ending is epic, the show ending could be like the end to American Horror Story: Asylum, except spoiling the books too.

      • Justin Maloney

        I can’t really see HBO ending GOT after its 7th season, especially if it continues to break viewing records. If Benioff and Weiss stick around it could easily go 9. The show is less then halfway through the projected written material so how could it possibly be more then halfway finished?

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  • Knives

    I wonder if they will try to make the next season focus on certain characters and do the rest of them on season 6, like they did in the books. Or if they will try to make it about all of the characters and stretch out the story even more than before

    • unknown_xho

      The story wouldn’t be stretched out if events are put into chronological order with all characters are included. What you said makes no sense. The amount of content would be the same, just in the correct order. It would be horrible for ratings if an entire season went by with no word from Tyrion, Dany, or Jon. I am so glad you have nothing to do with the shows production.

  • Knives

    I wonder if they will try to make the next season focus on certain characters and do the rest of them on season 6, like they did in the books. Or if they will try to make it about all of the characters and stretch out the story even more than before

  • Knives

    I wonder if they will try to make the next season focus on certain characters and do the rest of them on season 6, like they did in the books. Or if they will try to make it about all of the characters and stretch out the story even more than before

  • agent777

    It was always a mistake to try to fit Thrones into a rigid schedule and not simply let the plot and story unfold organically. No point blowing through good material.

  • agent777

    It was always a mistake to try to fit Thrones into a rigid schedule and not simply let the plot and story unfold organically. No point blowing through good material.

  • Jeff

    I have been dying for a Sci Fi show on either HBO, AMC or FX. Westworld would be awesome. also still hoping Ballistic City eventually comes out on AMC: http://collider.com/joseph-kosinski-travis-beacham-ballistic-city-amc/
    and also hoping Redshirts comes out on FX:
    http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/redshirts-novel-tv-series-fx/

    • SRJ

      AMC have this post-apocalyptic project called “Galyntine”, as well one from Chris Carter called “Area 51″. You can keep an eye out for those.

      From FX, I’m not sure if “The Strain” classifies as full-fledged science fiction, but it has a few things from the genre going for it.

      • Jeff

        Thanks! yeah, I remember reading about Area 51 now that you mention it, and i’ve seen the name Galyntine but didn’t know what it was about. hopefully between those 2 and Ballistic City AMC will have some good Sci Fi coming soon.

        I’m a huge Del Toro fan so I am really looking forward to the Strain. It does appear to have some Sci Fi elements to it although it looks mostly Horror/Fantasy…but it will have to do for now until one of the shows we mentioned come out.

      • SRJ

        Unfortunately, Ballistic City is listed in FutonCritic as “Previously in Development”. But there is a chance it may move in future. (The same thing happened for Netflix’s Pablo Escobar project “Narcos”)

      • Jeff

        that’s a shame, because Ballistic City is the one I was looking forward to most.

      • SRJ

        You may still get it sometime in future. What I meant with Narcos is that it was listed as ‘Previously in Dev.’ before, but now it has a 10 episode order.

      • Jeff

        I wrote to Travis Beachman the writer of Pacific Rim, and Ballistic City on Twitter. I asked if he still planed on making Ballistic City on AMC. He replied back with “that’s the plan”… so good enough for me. haha :)

      • SRJ

        Happy day then :) Really nice…

    • SRJ

      AMC have this post-apocalyptic project called “Galyntine”, as well one from Chris Carter called “Area 51″. You can keep an eye out for those.

      From FX, I’m not sure if “The Strain” classifies as full-fledged science fiction, but it has a few things from the genre going for it.

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