While AMC gave it a run for its money for a few years with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, both of those series have now ended, and HBO is undoubtedly the most prestigious network on television. It’s not only host to one of the most popular series in the medium—Game of Thrones—but its content is as varied as it is impressive. Shows like True Detective, Veep, and Silicon Valley could not be more different from each other, and yet they’re all brilliant in their own ways.
But HBO is not and has never been a one-hit network, and a lengthy profile in THR reveals some incredibly interesting prospects that are currently in development, chief of which being a play to nab former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. The network has had conversations with Simmons about a TV show along with “heavy digital extensions” that play right into HBO’s new standalone service HBO Now.
Simmons has plenty of suitors after having been removed from Grantland, but the allure of HBO could prove to be the key to landing the ousted personality. It could be a situation not dissimilar from when HBO gave Bill Maher a show after his Politically Incorrect came under fire at ABC. Moreover, the success of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver proves HBO is willing to move into the late night genre while giving its creator a hefty amount of control over just what kind of show he or she wants to make.
But the profile also has plenty of other news nuggets to share, though it is unfortunately spare on details:
- There are plans for more of the insanely compelling Robert Durst docuseries The Jinx.
- The Wire creator David Simon is developing a 1970s porn drama.
- HBO also hopes Simon will “take a pass” at adapting the popular Danish political drama series Borgen.
The most disappointing news, however, is that it looks like Westworld—the sci-fi Western series from executive producers Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams—will not be making its target 2015 premiere date. Initially slated to launch later this year, HBO Programming Chief Michael Lombardo says they’re taking the time to make sure they get the show right:
“The pilot is a really powerful starting point, but when you’re doing a series, you go, ‘OK, so what’s the next episode? What’s bringing you in?’ You can’t just be a spectacle every week.”
Westworld was ordered to series last winter, with HBO no doubt hoping to spawn another genre hit a la Game of Thrones, which is likely to conclude after seven seasons. While it’s unlikely they’ll scrap the series altogether, it does sound like we’re going to have to wait until 2016 to see it.
The full THR profile is a fascinating read that delves into many facets of the HBO brand, including its self-confessed problem of developing too much content and how the network is shaking up the cable landscape by embracing the standalone concept. Thankfully, “stagnancy” does not appear to be in HBO’s vocabulary.