TCA Roundup: HBO Talks ‘Confederate’ Controversy, ‘True Detective’ Season 3 and More

Mahershala Ali
Peter Graham

The Television Critics Association press tour arrived in Beverly Hills on July 25 and will continue through Aug. 9. Each day, Variety will publish a roundup of the most essential news items to come out of the day’s panels.

In today’s roundup, Andrew Sodroski and Greg Yaitanes discussed the humanity in Discovery Channel’s “Manhunt: Unabomber” series, Mahershala Ali was confirmed to star in “True Detective” season three, and HBO Original Programming chief Casey Bloys admitted the press release surrounding David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s Confederate project was misguided.

Sodroski and Yaitanes, producers of the six-part Unabomber limited series, said they wanted to bring light to certain aspects of a well-known criminal case like FX did with “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Paul Bettany stars as bomber Ted Kaczynski and Mark Duplass plays his older brother, David, who turned his brother in after recognizing his writing style in the Unabomber’s manifesto published by The Washington Post. Duplass said he was able to pull inspiration for their brotherly dynamic from his relationship with his own brother Jay Duplass, with whom he often works. Sodroski and Yaitanes added that they intend to make the series into a recurring scripted series.

Bloys also added that there are currently 5 scripts for the third season of “True Detective,” and that Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali will star.

Jon Stewart also announced that he will be making a return to stand up with a comedy special on HBO for the first time in over 20 years. Stewart will also host the “Night of Too Many Stars” all-star benefit for NEXT For Autism to be presented live from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York on Nov. 18. “I’m really thrilled to be able to return to stand-up on HBO,” Stewart said. ”They’ve always set the standard for great stand-up specials. Plus, I can finally use up the last of the Saddam Hussein jokes left over from my first special.”

Fans of HBO’s Western series “Deadwood” will be pleased to hear that Bloys said he was very happy with the script creator David Milch sent him for a “Deadwood” movie. Although he cautioned that there were still several roadblocks to overcome before the movie could be seriously announced, he said that if they can make all pieces fit together, the company is “inclined to do it.” Hints of a “Deadwood” film were first introduced after the cancellation of the original series after some off-camera clashes. Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker and John Hawkes were part of the 2004-2006 show’s large ensemble cast.

HBO sparked controversy last week when they announced the series pick-up of a new project from “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss entitled “Confederate,” which depicts a United States in which the South successfully seceded from the Union and the institution of slavery thrives. During a session at the TCA press tour Wednesday, Bloys denied that the series would be as over the top as critics had painted it. “The producers have said they’re not looking to do ‘Gone With the Wind’ 2017,” Bloys said. “It’s not whips and plantations. It’s what they imagine a modern day institution of slavery would look like.” Bloys also talked “GoT,” stating that it’s unclear whether the final season will air in 2018 or 2019.

Finally, Larry David and the cast of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which returns for a ninth season in October, had fun — at the expense of the press, of course —  during the day’s final HBO panel.

“I brave traffic to get here! Bringing up the ‘Seinfeld’ finale? Shame on you!” David joked to one critic.

Actress Susie Essman added: “”You guys sit here all day doing this? Jesus f—ing Christ.”

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