Days after hitting a series-viewership high, HBO’s Big Little Lies has been kneecapped by accusations of some sharp elbows behind the scenes. Allegations of post-production changes have surfaced that the premium cabler is calling standard collaboration in television and one it is standing by.
“There wouldn’t be a season two of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold,” HBO declared in a statement Friday following reports that the director was bigfooted by Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée and showrunner David E. Kelley after shooting was over on the seven-episode latest run of the Emmy-winning series. “We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work.”
The WarnerMedia-owned outlet added, “As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself.”
Earlier today IndieWire posted an anonymously sourced tale of American Honey helmer Arnold being blindsided by the boys on the sunflare-filled series starring Nicole Kidman, Resse Witherspoon and Meryl Streep. The claimed creative control-snatching is in no small part why the supposedly entirely Arnold-directed Season 2 looks so very similar to the 2017-premiering Season 1 with Vallée’s trademark aesthetics.
In that context, Gersh-repped Arnold never was promised full creative control when she was bought on board last year, sources close to the production tell Deadline. Additionally the Oscar winner never was given final cut on the second season in her contract.
With praise for Arnold’s work from all sides, the finished product — to use a variation on HBO’s words — was handed over to the executive producers, which include Sharp Objects director Vallée, Kelley and Oscar winners Kidman and Witherspoon. A fact that might read like a power grab in certain lights but, for better and worse, actually is pretty standard for high-profile series like BBL and less stardust-filled shows alike.
Also one likely not to be repeated with Big Little Lies, as there are no plans for a Season 3 … yet.