HBO has been going through some interesting shakeups lately, most of them in the wake of programming chief Michael Lombardo stepping down after 10 years. He was replaced by Casey Bloys, HBO’s former head of comedy, who recently made the decision to bring back Curb Your Enthusiasm — a move some have seen as a way for HBO to help course-correct its recent new series woes. Adding to that now is a decision to cancel the big-budget series Vinyl, which was initially renewed and being retooled for Season 2.
Vinyl — created by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Rich Cohen and Terence Winter — starred Bobby Cannavale as a bombastic record executive with a major substance abuse problem. Ultimately, the character was boorish, and the rest of the season was boring, even if its soundtrack was pretty great. Vinyl seems to have fallen victim to having had too many cooks; it’s a great marketing tool to say so many big names are involved with a project, but if they’re all really involved, it’s going to create some major issues. That’s likely what prompted Terence Winter to exit the series over “creative differences” earlier this year.
And yet, HBO chose to renew the series initially maybe because it seemed obvious (big names, big budget, etc), but cutting the cord was the right move. That budget can, and should, be spent elsewhere. In a statement released today, HBO confirmed that it will not be moving forward with Vinyl after all, even though it had replaced Winter with showrunner Scott Z. Burns, who was apparently working on a blueprint for the new season, but according to Variety, had not yet turned in any scripts.
As long as Game of Thrones has breath, HBO is doing ok. But when it comes to marquee dramas, the premium network has been struggling. The difficult series The Leftovers has not been a hit among audiences, though unlike Vinyl, at least some critics like it (although I am not among them). After the scrapping and re-tooling of the Lewis and Clark miniseries, the breakup of David Fincher’s Utopia, and the issues with True Detective’s past and future, HBO needs something to stick. In other words, it really needs Westworld to be a hit.
You can check out the cancellation or renewal status of over 150 other scripted series with our handy TV Lifeline.