EXCLUSIVE: When HBO landed eight-episode drama True Detective in a bidding war two years ago, the pay cable network signed an overall deal with the project’s creator, novelist Nic Pizzolatto. The bet paid off, with the series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson garnering critical praise and solid ratings. Now HBO has inked a new two-year overall deal with Pizzolatto, who is working on a second season of True Detective. I hear he is currently preparing a draft to present to HBO executives who are expected to proceed with a Season 2 given the performance of the first installment whose premiere was HBO’s most watched series debut in more than three years and has garnered 7.7 million viewers to date on various platforms. This marks a very fast rise for Pizzolatto who only left academia, where he taught fiction and literature, to pursue writing full-time in 2010 and had only one TV credit, a staff writer job on AMC’s The Killing, before writing True Detective on spec.
The first season of True Detective stars McConaughey and Harrelson as two Louisiana state police officers on the trail of a murderer. While that story is self-contained and McConaughey and Harrelson indicated that they will not be returning for future installments, the anthology series will keep a duo of detective characters at the center going forward, narrating the story. “If we got to do it again, the setting would be a major character, along with our leads,” with the show set in a place “you wouldn’t normally set a television show,” Pizzolatto said at TCA earlier this month. “I tried to make the format as broad for my tastes as possible in the sense that this is almost the True Detective version of a buddy‑cop movie hunting for a serial killer. And there could be a season that’s much more of a widespread conspiracy thriller, a season that’s a small‑town murder mystery, a season where nobody is murdered and it’s a master criminal versus a rogue detective or something. Even the title, True Detective, is meant to be, of course, purposefully somewhat generic — the word “true” can also mean honorable and authentic and things like that. So as long as there is some crime in there, I think the series format can approach it.” Pizzolatto is with Anonymous Content and RWSG.