HBO seems to be at a very strange point in its life. The network, which can still command an onslaught of Emmys, appears to be slightly losing its grip on its programming. The network is looking for its next big, buzzed about show, and perhaps they thought they had it with Vinyl, but that show, which cost $100 million according to a new report by THR, has been a disappointment for the network. This comes on top of the network parting ways with David Fincher over both Videosyncrazy and Utopia, needing to rework their Lewis & Clark miniseries, and the delays over Westworld.
Now comes the news (in the same THR report) that HBO has shut down Codes of Conduct, a six-episode series from 12 Years a Slave director/producer Steve McQueen. As we reported last March, McQueen was set to direct all six episodes of the series, which was “an exploration of a young African-American man’s experience entering New York high society, with a past that may not be what it seems.” The show was set to star newcomer Devon Terrell along with Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rebecca Hall.
It’s possible that the project (along with Fincher’s shows) could be revived at some point. “We make no apologies for sticking by a project we believe has the potential to be great,” programming president Michael Lombardo told THR. “Unfortunately, we also at times find ourselves in the position of deciding not to move forward with others. That is never fun, but that is our business.”
However, their business seems to be squeezing out the artists they need the most and putting the network in a state of indecision where their last major dramatic hit was Game of Thrones. If everything has to be as perfectly aligned as Vinyl where you have Martin Scorsese plus Mick Jagger plus a rich era and music and that still doesn’t work, then being risk averse doesn’t necessarily get you where you need to be.
That being said, we don’t know why exactly HBO decided to pass on Codes of Conduct. Maybe it was too idiosyncratic. Maybe they couldn’t agree on the budget. Perhaps they felt it was better to put their money towards other projects. And yet when you have a project from an Oscar-winning filmmaker for six episodes, it sounds like it would have been a good investment, and it’s a shame that it’s no longer moving forward.