The recent death of James Gandolfini reverberated through the HBO executive session at TCA today. “Jim’s passing took the wind out of our sails,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said when asked about the future of the recently greenlighted limited series Criminal Justice, which Gandolfini executive produced and was to star in. “I can’t imagine airing the pilot with James in it,” Lombardo said, noting that the network is in discussions with director Steven Zaillian about how to proceed. “Conversations would be about reshooting the portion in the pilot with Jim and recasting the role.” The project, written by Richard Price, was originally piloted as a traditional drama series last year. HBO passed on the pilot in February but then picked it up as a limited series in May. Price and Zaillian continue to work on scripts, Lombardo said.
There will be a third season of The Newsroom. “The odds are excellent — we’re enormously happy with the show,” Lombardo said. “Conversations with (creator) Aaron Sorkin are all about scheduling as he he has other commitments. If we can figure the scheduling, I will be shocked if you would not be hearing about a renewal soon. The numbers this season are surpassing last season.” Things are not as certain about a second season of Family Tree, which just finished its freshman season. “It is a co-production with the BBC, and they’re interested in doing another season,” Lombardo said.” It didn’t find as robust an audience as we’d hoped for but we’re proud of it.”
As for how long Game Of Thrones and True Blood would go, “they can go as long as there is story,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said, noting that no end-game conversation on GOT, originally envisioned for a seven-season run, has started. And on True Blood, which changed showrunners early in the season with Brian Buckner taking the reins, “It feels like there is a new energy this season, and the show still has a large fan base,” Lombardo said. Both series have been renewed.
However, Mike White’s dark comedy Enlightened was not, receiving an Emmy nomination for star Laura Dern post-cancellation. “The show didn’t grow in the second year,” Lombardo said about the decision not to proceed with the series. “The most important element is we felt creatively the story of Amy had come to a natural resting place.”