HBO Chief: Slavery Drama ‘Confederate’ Is ‘Not Whips and Plantations’

Casey BloysHBO Executive Session Q&A, TCA

If HBO programming president Casey Bloys could get a redo on last week’s announcement about upcoming drama “Confederate,” he’d take it.

“File this under hindsight is 20-20,” Bloys said Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. Bloys faced multiple questions about the new series from “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. Picked up to series last week, “Confederate” sparked an immediate backlash over its subject matter — a fictional version of an America where the South successfully seceded from the Union and the institution of slavery thrives.


DB Weiss David Benioff

‘Game of Thrones’ Creators Defend New Slavery Drama ‘Confederate’: ‘This Is Scary for All of Us’

“Our mistake — HBO’s mistake, not the producers — was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release was misguided on our part.”

Bloys said he realized after the fact that HBO should have had the producers sit with journalists ahead of the announcement to talk in greater depth about their vision for the show. “Richard [Plepler, CEO of HBO] and I had the benefit of sitting with these four producers. We heard why they wanted to do the show, what they were excited about. So we had that context. But I completely understand why somebody reading the press release wouldn’t have that,” Bloys said.

Much of the criticism directed at HBO has been at the potential dangers of portraying modern slavery in a way that might inflame real-life race relations. Bloys insisted that the portrayal will be nuanced.

“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 urged potential viewers to withhold judgment until seeing the show. “All we can do is ask that people judge the final product of these artists and not what it could be or might be.”

“Confederate” will begin shooting after production wraps on the eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” next year.

Bloys also fielded questions on several other HBO series and projects:

• Regarding “Game of Thrones,” Bloys confirmed that no existing characters from the series will appear in any of the four prequel spinoffs currently being developed. As to whether the final season is still on track to air in 2018 or could be delayed until 2019, he said, “I don’t have the answer yet.”

• HBO, Bloys said, is easing back on stand-up specials, despite going ahead with a new one from former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. Bloys blamed the rising talent fees associated with specials where Netflix has moved aggressively to lock up A-list comics with eight-figure deals. “It’s hard for me to justify exorbitant prices,” Bloys said, adding that if prices come back down “we’ll talk about it.”

• Asked whether it was appropriate to have white actor Peter Dinklage play “Fantasy Island” star Hervé Villechaize in the upcoming film “My Dinner With Hervé,” Bloys said that HBO doesn’t know whether Villechaize is Filipino, as is widely believed. “His brother says they’re not,” Bloys said. Regardless, he added, “the benefit of humanizing someone” who experienced what Villechaize, a little person, experienced, outweighs other concerns.

• Bloys said that five scripts have been completed on “True Detective” season three with Mahershala Ali, but no director has yet been secured.

• Alan Ball’s yet-to-be-titled new series is a family drama with supernatural elements, Bloys said. ” It’s a mix of ‘True Blood’ and ‘Six Feet Under,’ ” he said.

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  1. Michael says:

    As the Charlottesville violence proved, for many southerners, the Civil War is still on. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’s “Confederate” series will be a recruitment tool for White Nationalists, who are a growing, modern political force that demands a seat at the table with other governing philosophies, white men who believe that the goal of a Whites-only confederate of southern states is achievable. This series will be presented in recruitment centers, clandestine locations where the good old boys are ready to get serious with their guns and their propaganda. Boosted by the fame that Charlottesville granted them, White Nationalists are ready to show Multicultural America what violence really looks like. This TV series, as viewed through these angry, hate-filled eyes, won’t feel like fiction, but as a calling, a blueprint, a tool to demonstrate to new recruits what they are fighting for. Like the men wearing “Slavery Gets Shit Done” T-shirts at a recent Tennessee Trump rally, HBO’s “Confederate” will articulate a fever-dream that lives in the hearts of millions of white men everywhere and make the world see that such an outcome, given enough bloodshed and firepower, is quite attainable in the real world.

  2. Max Conrad says:

    How about a series documenting the African kings that warred on their neighbors so they could capture them and sell them at the slave markets? Won’t happen. There’s no change of getting reparations from the ancestors of the African slave masters.

  3. David Graf says:

    If they can’t even get a PR notice right, why should we expect them to do any better with the show itself?

  4. abilliardmaster says:

    For the love of God cup cakes, it is just a movie. Not a depiction of real life today. Let us have our shows. We can decide which ones we want to see. Please do not let your PC nonsense ruin it for the rest of us.

  5. Keith Diggs says:



  6. toetagger says:

    Science fiction is the only fiction worthy of attention. Melodrama is nothing but tosh.

  7. ssgtnelson says:

    What’s the big deal? We have shows that flip the roles all the time. White people are the discriminated minority or women are the ones catcalling men. Grow up you snowflakes! Unless you guys are getting the same thing, over and over, that feeds your bias you throw a tantrum.

  8. Jjeffs63 says:

    Oh, please. Any slavery-themed show since the 1970’s features a mix of overly noble blacks and hatred inspiring whites. Throw in the slave owner’s daughter seeking..ahem..comfort in the slave quarters and the scripts just write themselves.

  9. MetaCynic says:

    The institution of slavery thrives today in America and throughout the world as never before. What supports the modern plantation system – government – if not taxes collected at gunpoint. We can no more escape involuntary servitude on the government plantation than black slaves could flee their masters. True, government provides some services, shoddy and inept as they may be, but Southern plantation owners provided security, food, clothing, housing and medicine to their slaves. This did not make them any less slaves, nor are we today any less slaves because we get potholed roads, failed schools and a violent global empire which earns us the hatred of the world’s people.

    Democracy is merely a vote for who will be our slave masters and overseers. Of course, regardless of the outcome, the slave system remains in place. We are never allowed to vote on the legitimacy of the slave system.

  10. The Hollywood/HBO/Entertainment Industrial Complex is pathetic. It’s so starved for ideas that its “greatest” creators have to invent an idiotic counterfactual like “Confederate”? History is full of great/important stories that still need to be told or retold and dramatized, including ones about black men and women and the iniquity, discrimination and humiliation they suffered in both the Jim Crow South and the North. Read Richard Rothstein’s important “The Color of Law: A forgotten history of how our government segregated America” for half a dozen examples of what middle-class black couples in the North faced when simply trying to buy a house. My history book “30 Days a Black Man,” which details a long-forgotten, movie-worthy undercover journalism mission into the Jim Crow South by a white reporter working with the NAACP in 1948, contains half a dozen historical heroic figures like Walter White of the NAACP and A. Phillip Randolph and Emmett Till’s mother, or great characters like George and Philippa Schuyler. It’s bad enough what Hollywood does to distort reality when it dramatizes it; if it wants to do a movie or series about modern slavery, set it in North Korea.

  11. Blurb says:

    Because being Jewish I just CANNOT write about anything but INJUSTICE. My Rothschilds masters told me so.

  12. Let the viewers decide what they want to watch. It’s time to end the liberal pc tyranny.

  13. Guest123 says:

    Already apologizing for the press release. I don’t know if this will make it very far.

  14. I’d hate to be a liberal. My head would explode.

  15. Senator Byrd says:

    How can you have a show on slavery without Democrat plantation owners wielding wips?

  16. Most people do not realize that the average lifespan for a black male in the jungles of Africa was 30 years. That lifespan almost doubled to 58 if the person was a slave in the south in the 1800s. (better diet, medicine, housing, safety,etc)

    • Boeing 757 says:

      Better 1 year as a free adult than a eternal lifespan in slavery. You sound like the kind of player that would have volunteered for undeath in WOW’s Rise of the lich king expansion.

    • John B says:

      Not to mention that a healthy slave was worth $250,000.00 in to-days money. That is not a piece of property that you would lightly abuse.

  17. WallytheDog says:

    There is going to be a season 3 of True Detective? Season 1 was great, but season 2 was so forgettable that I had forgotten the any of it had ever existed.

  18. Mike says:

    When it comes to the arts, we are approaching a Soviet-like environment where strict ideological conformity determines which works are allowed to be created and displayed.

  19. Nathan Redshield says:

    Hmmm…a slave troop might look a lot like a labor union local; the overseer like a shop steward…

  20. Asian Trump Supporter says:

    I’ll reserve judgment until I see the pilot, but if this is another race show without a single, major Asian character, count me out.

  21. pmccray says:

    I will be canceling HBO. It’s obvious to me that there is no diversity anywhere in the decision-making process of the network. And as for whites making comments about what is racist and what is not; until you walk a mile in black people’s shoes until you have the life experience that we have YOU HAVE NO OPINION. You sound stupid making dumb comments about something you have not experienced and have nothing in your life to compare it to. Put the blame of slavery where it belongs. On your lazy ancestors. You should have picked your own damn cotton, fruits, vegetables, did you own laundry and suckled your own young. My people were not allowed to migrate or immigrate we were kidnapped, robbed of our heritage and treated as animals.

  22. Ron D says:

    SO without the whips and chains it will sort of be like China, N. Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela?

    • Sorry, I thought that this was to pmcray, you are not a racist, he is.

    • bill says:

      actually blacks have enslaved more people than any other race on the planet so you might want to learn something before running your mouth.
      Blacks receive all kinds of special treatment in our country. Slavery was very brief in the U.S. Most states never even had it since they were not even part of the country when it started.
      And for the record YOUR people were kidnapped by BLACKS not whites and sold.
      Africa has thousands of years of history in the slave market so lets put the blame where it really belongs.
      Are you really dumb enough to believe a few white people from a ship armed with single shot muskets could really round up hundreds of slaves and take them back to their ships?
      Fact is Blacks enslaved blacks just like they always have (and even do today) and marched them to the coast and SOLD them.

    • DAVID CA says:

      People fail to realize that less than 5%, closer to 2%, of the people living in the “south” ever owned a slave. A fact that is overtly omitted in any discussions. And especially in any media broadcast or productions.
      So we really are talking about a very very small number of slave owners. Also conspicuously absent is any and all observation of the northern slave owners. Keeping in mind the emancipation proclamation only freed the southern slaves. The northern states were allowed to eventually outlaw slavery on their own.

  23. justinyolke says:

    Half the comments here are declaring that white people suffer too. That white people aren’t to blame for slavery. That blacks are, in fact, to blame for their own suffering.

    The same racist sayings said for hundreds of years.

    You all are going to hell, for real.

  24. enoughalready911 says:

    SO courageous when attacking religion, family values and those on the right….
    so cowardly when even SUGGESTING a fantasy world that DARES make someone on the left think how different the world COULD have been without the WHITES who fought to free slaves.

    • MetaCynic says:

      It’s worth pointing out that the institution of slavery is as old as human history. It existed throughout the world. Slavery was commonplace in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese civilizations. During the 18th century, it was English speaking white Christians who attacked slavery on moral grounds. Thereafter slavery was phased out peacefully in Europe and its colonies except in America where Lincoln, so we are taught, couldn’t figure out how to rid the U.S. of slavery except by war.

      Of course the Civil War was not over slavery, it was about tariffs. In his first inaugural speech, Lincoln voiced his support for an amendment to the Constitution to enshrine slavery in the South forever. What was unacceptable to Lincoln and to the northern ruling class was secession which would deny the federal government the funds brought in by tariffs protecting northern industries and paid by southern importers of European goods.

      As an aside, the word “slave” is derived from the word “Slav.” It is the Slavic people who were perpetually enslaved centuries before black slaves were brought to the western hemisphere. During the past century, Slavs were killed by the millions by western European armies. They were also enslaved for decades by Communism, a western European ideology. Where are the calls for special privileges and restitution for Slavs?

  25. Enough says:

    I already cancelled my HBO over this divisive idiocy.

  26. Jacob says:

    Blacks sold their own people into slavery, that argument is over. Whites ended slavery. Don’t seem to be getting much credit for that.

  27. cadavra says:

    Villechaize was born in Paris to an English mother and French father. Doesn’t exactly scream Filipino to me.

  28. Mike Kelly says:

    We’ve watched this concept already. It was called South Africa under Apartheid. Why anyone would think this is a good idea is beyond me.

  29. TexBill says:

    So it’s “what they imagine a modern day institution of slavery would look like.” But it doesn’t have whips and plantations?

  30. Capt Obvious says:

    Hmmm. If he though that was going to make things better, he was wrong.

  31. Col.Rasmus of 12 Oals says:

    Slavery is a generational curse like the Bible speaks of. White people have lost a lot because of our ancestors wickedness—not to mention the resulting hate that blacks won’t let go.

    • HBO President of Awesometown says:

      Dear God,
      Please drop a tree on Col. Rasmus of 12 Oals. Or make him never return to this website where he contributes nothing of value.

      • OBX says:

        I don’t know brother, his assessment is spot on. Its been bad for both black and white, even after the last slave or slaveholder died.

  32. HBO President of Awesometown says:

    Keep in mind the Conferederate producers have not said the slaves would be black. Don’t assume.

    They’ll probably be “tree-huggin’ libtards,” if they’re going to be accurate to today’s atmosphere.

    • Matt from Somewhere says:

      This is what I was thinking. I actually find it racist to assume that only blacks have or could ever be the only race that are slaves.

      I’m interested in seeing this because the guys making it seem to be genuine in the story they are trying to show. Benefit of the doubt until it’s released.

  33. K.D. says:

    Hey Daniel Holloway, who’s writing the True Detective scripts??????? Big factor, sir.

    • Enough says:

      Probably be whites in black face with wide eyes shucking and jiving. They are looking for division and hate with this foolishness.

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