×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

HBO’s Richard Plepler on ‘Confederate’ Controversy: ‘We Screwed Up’

The controversy surrounding HBO’s forthcoming series “Confederate” is the result of a public-relations error, according to the premium channel’s CEO Richard Plepler.

“We screwed up in an important way,” Plepler  said Tuesday at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in Los Angeles. Echoing comments made in July at the TCA press tour by HBO programming president Casey Bloys, Plepler added that the announcement regarding the series order for “Confederate” — from “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, about a fictional world in which the South won the Civil War and slavery thrives in America — lacked the proper context to allow the thinking behind the project to be fully understood.

“Where we screwed up was we tried to announce a complicated subject in a press release of three paragraphs,” Plepler said. “What we should have done is we should have had the creative team sit down with a room full of thoughtful reporters, engage in a Q&A. And when we finish ‘Thrones,’ and when they begin to put pen to paper, and when they form and put meat on the bones of this idea, we will do exactly that. I would say a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts on its boots, and that’s kind of what happened here.”

Plepler, interviewed alongside Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom by Vanity Fair’s Krista Smith, also spoke about the unprecedented level of competition that television programmers face as companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and now Apple pour money into original-series development.

“If you imagined even five years ago, let alone 10, that we would be looking out at this many content creators throwing this much money at creative content, making the degree of difficulty that much harder and the margin of error that much smaller, I would have said to you, ‘Eh, probably unlikely,'” Plepler said, pointing to Amazon and Apple’s entrance into the fray as having been particularly tough to anticipate.

Systrom, whose company is owned by Facebook, spoke about the need for social-media to root out the type of propaganda that Russia used to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“In all honesty, every single tech company needs to be worried about this,” Systrom said. “We need to dig, and we need to find out what’s going on, and it’s the right of every single person in this room and every single person in America to know.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Judith Light'Transparent' TV show Musical Finale,

    'Transparent' Team Talks 'Transformative Energy' of Trans Community

    As Amazon Prime Video prepares to send off “Transparent” with a musical finale movie on Sept. 27, the cast and creative team behind the show are hoping the impact of a character such as Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) will not be overshadowed by the controversy that the actor who portrayed Maura caused. “I believe that [...]

  • Cherry Jones

    Cherry Jones Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actress Emmy

    Cherry Jones won the 2019 guest drama actress Emmy for her work as the titular character’s mother, Holly Osborne, in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This was Jones’ second consecutive nomination for the role but first win. Interestingly, both noms were for her work in the second season of the dystopian streaming series. After a few [...]

  • Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden

    Jane Lynch, Cyndi Lauper Developing 'Golden Girls'-Style Comedy for Netflix

    Jane Lynch and Cyndi Lauper just wanna have fun. The comedian and the 1980s music icon have joined forces to star in a new comedy project that may be heading to Netflix. Lynch let it slip backstage at the Creative Arts Emmys that she and Lauper will co-star in a comedy that she described as [...]

  • Luke Kirby71st Annual Primetime Creative Arts

    Luke Kirby Wins 2019 Guest Comedy Actor Emmy

    Luke Kirby has been crowned the winner of the 2019 guest comedy actor Emmy for his role as the real-life comic Lenny Bruce on Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This was Kirby’s first-ever Emmy attention. He was nominated against a slew of “Saturday Night Live” players (Robert De Niro, John Mulaney and Adam [...]

  • Bradley Whitford photographed at the PMC

    Bradley Whitford Wins 2019 Guest Drama Actor Emmy

    Bradley Whitford won the 2019 guest drama actor Emmy for his role of Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Whitford joined the cast of the streaming dystopian series at the end of its second season, in episodes that were released after the close of the 2018 Emmy eligibility window. The Television Academy agreed [...]

  • TV Review: 'Transparent' Series Finale

    TV Review: 'Transparent' Series Finale

    Amazon’s “Transparent” will have a chapter, or a section of one, in some to-be-written history of television, in part thanks to how brazen and how daring its ideas were for its moment. Some of those were ideas that came to seem simply logical in retrospect: The show was a pathbreaker for trans representation onscreen, casting [...]

  • Jane Lynch NBC Relatively Happy

    Jane Lynch Wins 2019 Guest Comedy Actress Emmy

    Jane Lynch has been crowned the winner of the 2019 guest comedy actress Emmy for her role of comic Sophie Lennon on Amazon Prime Video’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” This was Lynch’s second consecutive nomination for the role but first win. However, it is her fifth Emmy overall, after winning a short form statue in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content