Three more ‘Game of Thrones’ seasons likely, HBO says

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HBO Chief On ‘Game of Thrones” Violence, ‘True Detective’s’ Quality and ‘Curb’s’ Future.

HBO’s most-watched series, the medieval fantasy drama “Game of Thrones,” will likely continue through three more seasons, a network executive said on Thursday, as he defended the show’s gritty violence. Hot off of a record 126 Emmy nominations, HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo took the Television Critics Association summer press tour stage Thursday to a deluge of questions.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – Eight could be the magic number of seasons for HBO’s fantasy-drama hit, Game of Thrones, according to programming president Michael Lombardo. And though he urged his Beverly Hilton audience to “be nice” -— this was his first panel without New York-based CEO Richard Plepler by his side, after all — he was game to field every one that came his way. Executives have planned to run at least seven seasons and are discussing with the show’s creators how much longer the show will extend beyond that, said Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming. Lombardo said he’d like to have more beyond that and would also be open to a prequel to the story of the epic battle for the Iron Throne in the fictional kingdom of Westeros, based on George R.R. In addition to Lombardo’s thoughts on Thrones’ future (hint: eight seasons and out is the current subject-to-change plan) and his defense of True Detective and its creator Nic Pizzolatto, here are the highlights from his half hour or so on stage: Lombardo’s heard — and read — all of your complaints about the degree of violence in his top-rated drama, but he fully supports showrunner David Benioff and Dan Weiss’ oft-bloody approach to storytelling. “This show has had violence as part of one of its many threads from the first episode,” he said, citing the gruesome fate of a 7-year-old in the series’ pilot.

It hit 20 million viewers this year … And I’ll be honest you with you, I think there are no two showrunners who are more careful about not overstepping what they think the line is — and everyone has their own line, I understand — but doing things that are critical for the storytelling and I support them fully artistically.” As for Snow’s fate, the network chief concluded, with a wide grin: “In everything I’ve seen, heard or read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.” The HBO chief predicted that both of the network’s famed voices will be back on the network’s schedule during his tenure — it’s the “when” that gets more complicated. I think that’s what we’re looking at right now.” Discussing the potential for a Thrones prequel, Lombardo said there would be “enormous storytelling to be mined” and that he is open to anything Benioff and Weiss want to do.

Lombardo revealed that when he saw David prior to his Fish in the Dark run on Broadway, he pointed to a notebook and told Lombardo that it was the next season of Curb. Lombardo insists he didn’t so much as take a peak, nor has he spoken to David since, but he — like much of the Hilton ballroom — is hopeful that they’ll be more Curb. “I don’t think it’s out of [Larry’s] system,” he said, before adding: “I think he wants to have something to say.” As for Chase’s next act for HBO, which will center on the formation of the Hollywood film industry, Lombardo stressed that the long-in-the-works project is still very much alive. Viewers of HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc, routinely tune in Sunday nights, but other days are less certain, he said. “I worry about that all the time,” he said. “Particularly with a digital platform and on-demand where things are available, I think quality will ultimately win out.” I think the show ends with as satisfying an end as any show I’ve seen.” While he has no news to report with regard to a third installment, he added that that decision is up to Pizzolatto. When asked how his network has been impacted by the streaming service’s aggressive programming push, he used it as an opportunity to reiterate two points.

The series, set in 1972 and starring Bobby Cannavale as a music executive, focuses on the sex-and-drug-fueled music business as punk and disco are rising. The first is that his team tries “so hard not to program defensively”; the second: that the competition extends beyond Netflix, to FX, to Showtime, to AMC. He acknowledged that while the industry was no doubt undergoing a paradigm shift – viewers are rethinking how and when they watch; networks are rethinking the length and format of what they air — quality will continue to be paramount.

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