×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

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.

“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.

More TV

  • BBC Orders Spoof Talk Show Fronted

    Spoof Talk Show Fronted by an Animated Vladimir Putin Coming to the BBC

    The BBC will air a spoof talk-show fronted by an animated Vladimir Putin. The U.K. pubcaster has ordered two pilot episodes of “Tonight with Vladimir Putin,” a semi-scripted talk show hosted by a CGI representation of the Russian leader. The first guest will be Alistair Campbell, a former high-ranking political spin doctor in the U.K. [...]

  • Upcoming Fantasy Shows Like 'Game of

    10 Upcoming Shows to Watch if You're Mourning 'Game of Thrones'

    Millions of people’s Sunday night routines are ruined now that “Game of Thrones” is over, and there are holes in their hearts as big as the hole in The Wall that are aching for a new fantasy series to fill them. Several prequel series are on their way, but as there’s no word on just [...]

  • Game of Thrones Composer Ramin Djawadi

    'Game of Thrones' Composer Ramin Djawadi: 'I'm Still in Denial'

    Since the first season, Ramin Djawadi has composed the music for “Game of Thrones” and created the epic tunes, including the iconic theme song, heard over the series’ most memorable moments. With the series finished, he talked with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1 about his experience on the show and an upcoming 20-city [...]

  • TUPAC SHAKUR black panther collection

    ‘Defiant Ones’ Director to Helm Docuseries on Tupac, Who Assaulted Him in 1993

    Director Allen Hughes, who helmed the award-winning HBO documentary “The Defiant Ones,” has closed a deal with Tupac Shakur’s estate for a five-part docuseries for which he will have full access to all of the late rapper’s released and unreleased recordings, writings and poetry, according to an announcement from his rep. The announcement says the [...]

  • Ellen DeGeneres -- The Ellen Show

    Ellen DeGeneres Extends Daytime Talk Show Run Through 2022

    Ellen DeGeneres is sticking with her daytime talk show. DeGeneres announced Tuesday that she has signed a new deal to continue hosting “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” through 2022. There had been rumors for some time that DeGeneres was planning to leave the show when her current contract was up in 2020, something she leaned into [...]

  • How YouTube Is Trying to Get

    How YouTube Is Trying to Get Will Smith His First-Ever Emmy Nomination (EXCLUSIVE)

    YouTube could be the key to Will Smith finally earning a Primetime Emmy nomination — or win. The superstar Formerly Known as the Fresh Prince has been nominated for two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes and one Screen Actors Guild Award, and has won four Grammys (out of eight nominations). Yet a Primetime Emmy nomination [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content