David Fincher’s first foray into the world of television gave us the wonderfully delicious first season of Netflix’s House of Cards. So when we heard he was working on not one but two potential series at HBO, we were thrilled. He’s one of the best filmmakers the medium has ever seen, so the prospect of getting two Fincher-led TV series from the most prestigious network on television was highly enticing. However, it appears that there’s now a possibility neither one of them will come to fruition.
The two shows in question are Video Synchronicity, a half-hour comedy set in the late 1980s world of music videos, and Utopia, an hourlong drama series remake written by Fincher’s Gone Girl scribe Gillian Flynn. HBO ordered Video Synchronicity to series earlier this year, but production was halted after the show’s fourth episode (Fincher directed the first two) to address script concerns. Speaking with THR shortly after the Television Critics Association’s HBO presentation, president of programming Michael Lombardo admitted there’ve been issues with Video Synchronicity but he’s determined to work them out:
“When we both saw the third and fourth [episodes], we realized we needed to go back and do some work on the scripts. David’s attention at that point — he is someone who likes to be hands on, on everything — got diverted by another project [HBO’s Utopia]. [He’s] not good at letting us go ahead and do what we needed to do on Video Synchronicity while he was working on Utopia. I texted with him today, we’re going to turn our attention soon back to Video Synchronicity and figure out the path forward. But I fully expect we’re going to be able to finish that up… There’s too much good stuff for us not to figure it out. We’re going to figure it out.”
Lombardo told THR that Video Synchronicity isn’t dead, but the trade additionally reports that Utopia is having its own development problems:
As for Utopia, Lombardo admitted that HBO is “struggling right now trying to figure that out. Sources tell THR that Utopia — which is rumored to have cast Rooney Mara — is way over budget. “We’re at that moment, trying to figure out if there is a path forward or not for Utopia.”
That is not encouraging language there, especially for something that seemed so fantastic. Fincher, Mara, Flynn—that’s a winning combo. But Fincher is no stranger to budget issues, and he’s not one to compromise his very specific vision just to get something made. He developed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Disney for a couple of years before finally walking away over budget and creative concerns, and his brief flirtation with Steve Jobs ended when Sony refused to match his quote and give him control over marketing. He’s an exacting guy, but he gets amazing results. Here’s hoping Video Synchronicity and Utopia don’t join the list of “almost there” Fincher projects.