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HBO’s Michael Lombardo Takes Blame for ‘True Detective’s’ Season 2 Struggle

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said the short deadlines he imposed on “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto were to blame for the poor audience reaction to the second installment of the anthology series.

“Well, you know what? I set him up. To deliver, in a very short time frame, something that became very challenging to deliver,” Lombardo recently said on KPCC’s The Frame. “That’s not what that show is. He had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Find his muse. And so I think that’s what I learned from it. Don’t do that anymore.”

The first season of “True Detective” earned five Emmy Awards and was nominated for seven others — including acting noms for leads Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and for Pizzolatto for writing. Lombardo said in the interview that he attributed this to the fact that “Pizzolatto had been thinking about [it], gestating, for a long period of time.”

The second season debuted a year later and suffered in the press. Variety critic Brian Lowry wrote of the second season premiere that fans should “temper their enthusiasm” that year and, upon the finale, called it a “major disappointment – not just compared to the original, but on its own turgid terms.”

“He’s a soulful writer,” Lombardo said of Pizzolatto. “I think what we did was go, ‘Great.’ And I take the blame [for season two]. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. ‘Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year.’”

Lombardo had previously praised Pizzolatto’s work at last summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, where he said he did not want to be “micro-managing the process.”

HBO recently signed an overall deal with Pizzolatto that would keep the scribe with the premium cabler through 2018. It has not announced whether “True Detective” will be back for a third season.

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