HBO at TCA: 'Game of Thrones' Spinoffs, 'Deadwood' and 'Confederate' Controversy

Jim Halterman
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Mahershala Ali will star in the upcoming third season of True Detective.

During Wednesday's Television Critics Association summer press tour, HBO President of Programming Casey Bloys fielded questions from the press and, no surprise, much of the focus was about the recently announced Confederate series coming from Game of Thrones executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

Confederate won't start filming until Benioff and Weiss wrap up their work on the final season of GOT, but because it will be a drama that takes place in an alternate timeline where America's southern states successfully seceded from the Union and slavery remains legal, any controversy is not a surprise. With such touchy subject matter, Bloys admitted to being aware the project's announcement would stir up controversy but is hoping the project can stand on its own. "The bet for us is on our talent," he said. "We have a long history at HBO of betting on our talent and standing behind them and my hope is that people judge the actual material instead of what it could be, should be, or might be. We will rise or fall on the quality of that material.” Casting for the series has yet to be announced.

Speaking of Game of Thrones,  Bloys confirmed that no existing characters from the series would appear in the potential spin-offs.

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Bloys offered an update on the return of Deadwood, the beloved western series that went off the air after three seasons in 2006 and would return as a film, written by creator David Milch. "The thing that I was concerned about is I wanted a script that would stand on its own that if you were a Deadwood fan, it would make you happy and if you had never watched Deadwood you could still enjoy it," Bloys said. "I’m happy to say that David totally delivered on that. I think it’s a terrific script." 

That said, the project isn't a done deal as of yet. Bloys explained, "if we can do it for a budget that makes sense for us and we find a director—we're talking to a few folks—and we can get the cast together, which is no easy task because everybody is all over the place, we're inclined to do it but we have to get over those hurdles."

Bloys is also enthusiastic about the third season of True Detective. "I will tell you that I have read five scripts for a third season and I think they're terrific," he said. "We have a deal with Mahershala Ali [who won an Oscar for Moonlight earlier this year] to play the lead so right now we're talking to directors and when we find a director that we want to hire it will be a go after that." Bloys kept mum about the storyline we'd see in the third season.

Finally, fans anxious for another season of the acclaimed miniseries The Night Of may have to wait a little longer. "The good news about someone like Steve Zaillian [executive producer] is he will come to them when he’s ready and he has not come to us with an idea that he feels makes sense to him." But HBO is ready to do more when Zaillian is. "When he comes to us, we’ll know that he’s locked into something.”