A week after HBO announced Confederate as a follow-up series for Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the controversy over the project’s concept, which involves slavery, has yet to subside. Expectedly, it took central stage during HBO’s TCA executive session with the network’s president of programming Casey Bloys.

D.B. Weiss David Benioff
Art Streiber

Written by Benioff and Weiss, who also will showrun, as well as Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman, Confederate chronicles events leading to the Third American Civil War. It takes place in an alternate timeline, where the Southern states successfully have seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.

Bloys started off by expressing regrets over the way Confederate was announced, calling the decision to issue a press release “misguided.” Instead, he suggested that the project’s topic would’ve been better suited for one-on-one interviews, in which the creators could fully flesh out their vision the way they had done in pitch meetings with HBO executives, something that cannot be conveyed in a one-line logline.

HBO

“If I could do it over again, our mistake  — HBO’s mistake, not the producers’ — was thinking that we would be able to announce an idea that was so sensitive and require so much care in a press release,” Bloys said.

While he admitted that “all the boxes have to be ticked,” Bloys stressed that “we have a long history betting on our talent” and cautioned against quick judgments. “I hope that people will judge the actual material, not how it could be or might be. We will rise and fall based on the material,” he said.

Admitting the “high degree of difficulty” associated with the subject matter, Bloys was adamant that the most controversial part in the concept for Confederate, the portrayal of slavery, will be nuanced.

“The producers have said they’re not looking to do Gone With the Wind 2017,” he said. “It’s not whips and plantations. It’s what they imagine a modern-day institution of slavery would look like.”

Bloys also stood firmly behind Benioff, Weiss and the Spellmans.

“These four writers are at the top of their game — they can do anything they want, and this is what they feel passionately about. I’ll bet on that,” Bloys said, adding that the series “is a risk worth taking.”