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HBO Boss Talks GAME OF THRONES Final Season and Spin-Offs, Defends CONFEDERATE

HBO Boss Talks GAME OF THRONES Final Season and Spin-Offs, Defends CONFEDERATE

There’s a good news/bad news situation for Game of Thrones fans. The good news? The final season of HBO’s fantasy darling is going to be awesome and gnarly. The bad news? There’s still no word on how long we have to wait to actually see it or the myriad spin-offs the network is developing.

Casey Bloys, President of HBO Programming, faced a room full of reporters at the 2017 Summer TV Press Tour on Wednesday afternoon to give up an update on the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, and his comments sent everyone on a roller coaster of emotions.

“The scripts are written, and I believe [showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss] are boarding it all out in a sense,” Bloys said. “It’s a big season, as with all the seasons, very complicated. So they’re trying to get a sense of how long is it going to take them to shoot this. So I don’t have the answer yet [to when season eight will air]. But they’re working on it.”

He also confirmed that no existing Game of Thrones characters will appear on any of the four spin-off series that are in development, so there goes any hope that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) or Jon Snow (Kit Harington) will live on past the original series and show up again after Game of Thrones ends.

Bloys then had to go on the defensive when it came to the Thrones showrunners next series, the recently announced Confederate. The modern day slavery drama from Game of Thrones‘ Benioff and Weiss drew immediate criticism from press and the public alike for its tone-deafness. However, Bloys believes that if the producers could have just explained their idea for the show right away, that would have put everyone at ease. Hmmm…

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“Let me first say about Confederate is obviously we’ve been thinking about it. File this under hindsight is 20/20,” he said. “If I could do it over again, our mistake — HBO’s mistake not the producers — was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release, was misguided on our part. If I had to do it over again, what I would do to introduce the idea is what we ended up doing after the fact with the four producers, which is to have them sit with journalists.”

Since the HBO brass “had the benefit of sitting with” the producers, they “heard why they wanted to do the show, what they were excited about, why it was important to them, so we had that context.”

“But I completely understand that someone reading the press release would not have that at all,” Bloys said. “If I had to do it over again, I would have rolled it out with the producers talking on the record so people understood where they’re coming from. We assumed the response. All the producers, we assumed it would be controversial. I think we could have done a better job with the press roll out. We knew the idea would be controversial so I guess we thought it would be a little bit more a standard, ‘here’s the press release, what are the questions,’ but what we realized in retrospect was that people don’t have the benefit of the context for the conversations with the producers that we had.”

Bloys emphatically revealed that “the producers have said they’re not looking to do Gone With the Wind 2017. It’s not whips and plantations. It’s what they imagine a modern day institution of slavery would look like.” And despite the overwhelmingly negative response, HBO is betting on the talent of the producers to make Confederate a hit.

Macall B. Polay - HBO (Photo 7)

“We have long history of betting on our talent. We’re going to stand behind them,” Bloys said. “My hope is that people will judge the actual material as opposed to what it could be or should be or might be. And we will rise or fall based on the quality of that material. These four writers are at the top of their game. They could do anything they want and this is what they feel passionately about. So I’m going to bet on that.”

Bloys recognizes that “this is weapons grade material we’re dealing with.”

“Everyone understands that there is a high degree of difficulty with getting this right. But the thing that excites them and that excited us is that if we can get it right, there is a real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America,” explained Bloys. “If you can draw a line between what we’re seeing in the country today, voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to quality public education or health care, and draw a direct line between that and our past and our shared history, that’s an important line to draw and would be a conversation worth having. So it is very difficult, they acknowledge there is a high degree of difficulty, but again they all feel and we support them that it’s a risk worth taking.”

What do you think about the Game of Thrones updates for the final season and the spinoffs? Does HBO’s defense of Confederate put you at ease, or are you still wary of the project? Tweet me at @SydneyBucksbaum, and let’s discuss.

Images: HBO

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