For all the success HBO has had with its programming, it doesn’t get as much love on Wall Street as it does in the arts community – pundits were criticizing HBO’s decision to offer its programming over-the-top (OTT) for $14.99 per month.
Well, if the over 100 Emmy nominations are any indication, it might be worth it.
And that’s the basis for HBO’s presentation Thursday at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena.
– Executive session: HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo discussed the future of hit series Game Of Thrones, saying it’s possible the series go beyond seven seasons – and even a prequel he said. He declined to discuss Throne’s controversial rape scene in detail, which was talked about to death everything else.
Lombardo said he wasn’t concerned about competition from streaming service Netflix, which has garnered quite a bit of press attention and Emmy nominations (but not as many as HBO), saying there is just as much quality programming coming from FX and AMC as there is from Netflix. Lombardo also said he was open to bringing back Curb Your Enthusiasm for a ninth season if Larry David wants to do it. He also defended criticism over True Detective’s second season, which has been salvaged by some (especially on yours truly’s Twitter feed.)
Other HBO highlights:
– There was some controversy over David Simon’s new series Show Me A Hero, set in a public housing project in Yonkers, N.Y. in the 1980’s. The Wire creator scolded the crowd Thursday for their…lack of outrage: “I’m coming with six hours on public housing in Yonkers, New York, and you’re not acting like I’m out of my mind. What were you people thinking?” Oscar Issac plays Yonkers mayor Nicholas Wasicsko – the youngest mayor ever elected in the United States at the time – who often clashes with his less-than-progressive city council, led by Alderman Spollane (Alfred Molina.) The six-hour miniseries premieres Aug. 16.
Hero is directed by former Thritysomething writer Paul Haggis, who co-wrote, produced and directed the Oscar-winning 2004 movie Crash.
– During a session for his new HBO comedy Ballers, Dwayne Johnson (known as The Rock in WWE), said he was disappointed with Hulk Hogan after it was revealed the WWE superstar used racial slurs when he described his daughter’s music career in sealed documents in his lawsuit against Gawker. Rock and Hogan helped headline Wrestlemania in 2002. Hogan was “fired” from the WWE last week and anything referring to him was scrubbed from its website.
– Another panel had the cast of Bessie up, featuring Queen Latifah, Taraji P. Henson, and Kandi Landecker. Latifah told the crowd he’s in a better position to play the famed blues singer Bessie Smith now at 44 when she was pitched the project, at 22, the height of her hip-hop career. “When the project came my way, I don’t think I had the life journey that went along with it. I got to live more of the blues.” Latifah said at the tour.
Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment, who also produced her now-canceled talk show, is producing Bessie for HBO, and is directed by Dee Rees.
– HBO announced several new specials at the tour: Amy Schumer’s first stand-up special, from the Apollo Theater in New York and directed by Chris Rock, premieres on October 17. A U2 concert special is slated for November 14, while a behind-the scenes documentary is scheduled for November 7.
– Mark April 12, 2016 on your calendars: that’s when Game Of Thrones, Veep, and Silicon Valley return with all new episodes.
– HBO renewed Real Time with Bill Maher for two more seasons.
– HBO also signed a “first-look” deal with Russell Simmons, whose TV career began with the network with Def Comedy Jam way back when.