HBO executives, while admittedly not the biggest fantasy genre fans, say they love Game of Thrones. Just don't try to get them to commit to it in perpetuity.
Reporters at the network's fall TV preview session Thursday did anyway, questioning whether or not the network would stick closely to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books on which Game of Thrones is based, asking if they might consider seasons longer than 10 episodes, and generally attempting to get a decade-long order for future seasons.
HBO, in turn, reassured and made no guarantees. "We told George we'd go as long as he kept writing," network president of programming Michael Lombardo said. (Martin just released the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, in his planned seven-book series.) The author is also involved in the production of the series, now in the middle of shooting Season 2.
"He is linked to everything [executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff] are doing," network president of programming Richard Plepler said. That being said, Lombardo added, "I don't know where the show for us ends as opposed to the books... I think the challenge for us is always, how long do the creators want to stay with the show? Dan and David have signed on for a couple of years and we're going to have those conversations with them every couple years."
As for longer seasons? Executives said they wouldn't be able to do more without lengthy delays or diluting the quality of the stories.
Elsewhere at the HBO session, the network unveiled a new Monday-night block, which will kick off Oct. 10 at 9/8c with Bored to Death and followed by a new comedic half-hour called Enlightened. The show is from creator-executive producers Mike White and Laura Dern and stars Dern as Amy, a woman who has a spiritual awakening following a public meltdown — which in turn creates havoc at work and at home.
White said he was interested in writing a character that was unlike the morally ambigulous antiheros that populate contemporary cable TV shows. Amy is "someone who feels like they've seen the light and wants to express that to everybody, but she doesn't have the credibility."
"It's like someone who comes back from AA and has all the answers... for you!" In the show, Amy's suddenly can-do, whistleblowing spirit is alternately hopeful, positive and extremely off-putting to her friends and family.
"It's interesting that so many put honesty on a pedestal," Dern said. "But also how unlikable a trait that is." But White says Amy is not completely oblivious. "I think there's that initial zealot phase of someone who has had an epiphany. ...There are some dense moments, but I think it's very important to me that there is sanity to her cause. ... I at least feel it."
So where does the comedy from? Dern says that while the series is not trying to be either "extremely reverential or irreverent" about the desire to find oneself, "Mike's voice is a very earnest one about how we all long for it... She's very flawed and feels everything in an enormous way and is very honest — because of those traits comes, perhaps, disaster."
Among HBO's other announcements: The network has renewed Real Time with Bill Maher for a 10th season; The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency will not return as a series, but executives are currently evaluating two scripts for a pair of standalone films that continue the story; David Milch and Michael Mann's horse racing drama Luck, starring Dustin Hoffman, will premiere some time in January.