Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

HBO touts life sans 'Sopranos'


Recommended Posts

It's hail and farewell at HBO.

Cabler is readying new dramas from Alan Ball and David Milch while putting a spear in big-budget hour "Rome." In addition, it's all but certain that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" will come back for a sixth season.

Presiding over a packed house Wednesday, the third day of the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Pasadena, Albrecht told reporters that HBO will "definitely do" a new series from "Six Feet Under" creator Alan Ball called "True Blood," the vampire drama he has been developing for the past year (Daily Variety, Oct. 27).

Albrecht also gave a virtual greenlight to David Milch's "John From Cincinnati," a Hawaiian surf-set one-hour that HBO began developing several months ago. Albrecht explained that his enthusiasm for the new project was the primary reason for the truncated ending to "Deadwood."

"David has a finite amount of time," Albrecht said. HBO's showrunners "are so involved with what they do (that) we practically have to pry the shows out of their hands to get them on the air," he added, noting that he suggested ending "Deadwood" with six episodes in order to get an early start on "John."

Discussions for a sixth season of "Curb" also are under way. "We hoped we'd have something to be able to talk to you about today, but we're working toward having it for 2007," Albrecht said, adding later that the deal was "pretty close" to being done.

Elsewhere, HBO will conduct a couple of bold scheduling experiments this fall.

In a first for the cabler, net will premiere episodes of "The Wire" and "Def Comedy Jam" on its HBO On Demand platform a full six days before they bow on the regular service.

What's more, in a major break from tradition, HBO will shift theatrical movie premieres from Saturday nights to Sundays, though Albrecht said the sked would very likely revert back to normal once "Rome" and "The Sopranos" return next year.

Move seemed like a good opportunity given that "we have the majority of theatrical output deals -- and nine of the top 10-grossing movies of 2005 -- and there's more of a potential audience on Sunday than on Saturday," Albrecht said. He added that "The Wire" has performed better when it aired at 10 p.m. as opposed to 9.

Even if temporary, HBO's decision to shift its movie premieres to Sundays ends a decades-long tradition. It's also another sign that the cabler's series pipeline has weakened in recent years.

HBO has played with its schedule before. Net temporarily moved the final season of "Six Feet Under" to Mondays in an attempt to open up a new night of originals. When ratings fell, the show quickly moved back to Sunday.

"True Blood" and "John" will likely join the sked toward the end of next year. Before that, HBO will send off "Rome" in January and "Sopranos" in March, followed by the second season of "Big Love" and "sexLife," a new relationship skein about couples in therapy from Gavin Polone.

News that "Rome" shuts down after two seasons comes as some surprise -- show is a solid ratings performer and has sold well overseas. But with the commitments to several new drama projects, HBO has deemed "Rome" a two-season-and-out series, and Albrecht reminded TV writers that the network has no set criteria for how it schedules and orders shows.

Albrecht also noted that "Rome" is not inexpensive. He characterized it as both an "enormous investment" -- the show's $100 million production budget was widely reported -- and "the most cost-efficient show we do," having production partners in the BBC and Italy's RAI.

"The BBC and RAI are only signed for two seasons. It's a big (financial) bite for them. And for us," Albrecht said, earlier noting that the project was initially conceived as a miniseries. "Then again, we may decide that the food in Rome is so good and figure out a way (to keep it going)."

As for "The Wire," a critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged crime drama, Albrecht isn't counting out a possible fifth season beyond the upcoming fourth.

He said all creator David Simons had to do to convince the network to order a fourth season "was to show me the scripts. I've seen all of the new episodes and it's fantastic."

In other HBO news:

* Cabler will make original mini-episodes of "Entourage" available to Cingular Video customers who subscribe to HBO Mobile. First-of-its-kind deal extends the "Entourage" stories in mobisodes that will be written, produced and acted by the cast and crew of the regular series. Mobile series will center on the character of fame-hungry Johnny Drama, who has been given the opportunity to make a "cellivision" show. HBO Mobile also will distribute full-length episodes, segmented into chapters, of the first season of "Entourage," as well as episodes of "Sex and the City," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Dane Cook's Tourgasm."

* Kelly Clarkson will headline her first concert special for HBO on Feb. 3. Spec will be taped from London's Wembley Arena.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...