HBO May Still Have Some Game Left After All

     July 10, 2008

Written by Nicole Pedersen

Earlier today I wrote a piece about a proposed pilot on HBO that is being executive produced by Forest Whitaker called “Fat Sells.” Aside from having one of the most uninviting titles in recent memory, the pilot was only the latest in a series of projects announced by the King of the pay channels that left me aching for the days when the worst I could expect from the network was a re-run of “Def Poets Jam.” I turned off my computer, lamenting the loss of “Rome” and “The Wire” and wondering how Nancy would deal with Celia on the next episode of “Weeds.” Yup, I’m all about Showtime now.

But before I get too drastic about my conversion, let me say that when I next went online I found out that HBO does have some new shows on the horizon besides the one that deals with the difficulties of buying herbal diet aids. Praise Yahweh.

Seems that new HBO entertainment president Sue Naegle is prepared to do what it takes to win her loyal viewers back. That includes hiring as many people that were involved with past HBO success stories as she can find – and I’m not talking about that Kim Cattrall show here. I think we all know that signing a production agreement for any new series with that woman will prove foolish in the end.

The three projects that HBO announced at a press conference today all sound remarkably promising, and their themes seem to be spread evenly between the HBO series that viewers have been missing the most.

First up, “The Washingtonienne,” which is to be exec-produced by Sarah Jessica Parker. As far as I can tell this comedy will be just like “Sex & the City” except set in Washington DC. The series is based on the blog of former congressional staffer Jessica Cutler, who was fired for dishing about how she gave anal sex to high-ranking Bush appointees. Anal sex? Republicans? I’m not the biggest SJP fan, but something tells me this show will be special.

Next, a post-Katrina New Orleans drama called “Treme” from “The Wire” creator David Simon. Before you say – ‘yeah, but “K Ville” sucked,’ remember that I said David Simon was in charge. This was the man that made five minutes of the word fuck (and only the word fuck) sound like Shakespeare on “The Wire.” Fuck Yeah.

Finally, and I think most auspiciously, HBO will produce a joint venture from Martin Scorsese and “Sopranos” producer/writer/director Terry Winter based on Atlantic City in the 1920’s. No details on who will be handling what on this series (my money is on Scorsese as exec producer only) but no matter what order the names fall on the title card, the melding of “The Sopranos” legacy and the Scorsese name is sure to get people to back away from Showtime for awhile. Right about now I’m beginning to wonder why I ever sullied myself with that upstart channel in the first place.

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