HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ to debut April 17

Network also talks 'Mildred,' 'Girls' at TCA panel

HBO has given the go-ahead to Lena Dunham’s half-hour comedy series “Girls.”

The pay cabler also announced at the TV critics tour Friday that the highly anticipated sci-fi venture “Game of Thrones” will debut April 17.

The greenlight for “Girls” is a vote of confidence for 24-year-old Dunham, who wrote, directed and starred in “Tiny Furniture,” which was nommed for three Indie Spirit awards. She’s also adapting the novel “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” for Scott Rudin.

“Lena Dunham quickly established herself as an important young talent with her first feature film,” said Sue Naegle, president of HBO Entertainment. “We are thrilled to team up with her and fellow executive producers Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner for this exciting project.”

“Girls,” starring Dunham, Jemima Kirke and Allison Williams, is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of women in their early 20s.

Apatow and Konner exec produce with Dunham. Shooting will begin in the spring in New York.

“Game of Thrones,” which shot in Malta and Ireland, has shaped up as one of the most expensive series in network history, with a large cast that includes Mark Addy, Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage.

It’s based on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling fantasy series “A Song of Fire and Ice” and was created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who also exec produce.

Story revolves two powerful families engaged in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

Said Martin, about whether the popularity of the books will translate to the smallscreen, “Fantasy and science-fiction fans are intense and look at their favorites with passion. Fantasy has largely been restricted to books, and readers are hungry for fantasy to be brought to television.”

HBO still needs to make a decision on other pilots, including “Tilda,” starring Diane Keaton as a prominent Hollywood blogger.

Net’s movie division gave the go-ahead for “Thurgood,” the story of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall starring Laurence Fishburne. The one-man play, filmed in front of a live audience, played several cities around the country. Written by George Stevens Jr. and directed by Michael Stevens, “Thurgood” will air Feb. 24. Bill Haber is exec producer.

The network’s miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” starring Kate Winslet as a Los Angeles housewife during the Depression, will debut March 27. Film is based on the 1941 James M. Cain novel. Guy Pearce and Evan Rachel Wood co-star, while Todd Haynes directs.

On the docu side, net announced preems for handful of projects: “A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy” (Jan. 20), “Reagan: (Feb. 7), “The Battle for Marjah” (Feb. 17), “Triangle: Remember the Fire” (March 21) and “Saving Pelican 895” (April).

HBO Sports, which saw a banner year with “Hard Knocks With the New York Jets” and the recently concluded “24/7 Penguins/Capitals: The Road to the NHL Winter Classic,” will offer docu “Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV” on March 7, on the eve of college basketball’s March Madness.