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HBO President Of Programming Michael Lombardo Takes Blame For ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Talks Network Nudity

HBO President Of Programming Michael Lombardo Takes Blame For 'True Detective' Season 2, Talks Network Nudity

Say what you want about “True Detective” season two, but HBO is likely feeling just fine about it after picking up a Producers Guild Awards nomination earlier today. Divisive to say the least, many thought it was beyond diminished returns following the stellar debut season, and questions were raised about the genius status granted writer/producer/overlord Nic Pizzolatto. But the network very much believes in the writer (Pizzolatto inked a new deal with the network in November), and moreover, HBO President Of Programming Michael Lombardo takes some of the blame himself for the results of the second season of “True Detective,” and says he likely didn’t give Pizzolatto the creative space he needed.

READ MORE: Wildly Mixed First Reviews Arrive For ‘True Detective’ Season 2

“Our biggest failures — and I don’t know if I would consider ‘True Detective 2’ — but when we tell somebody to hit an air date as opposed to allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place, when it’s ready, when it’s baked — we’ve failed,” Lombardo told The Frame. “And I think in this particular case, the first season of ‘True Detective’ was something that Nic Pizzolatto had been thinking about, gestating, for a long period of time. He’s a soulful writer. I think what we did was go, ‘Great.’ And I take the blame. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. ‘Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year.’ ”

“Well, you know what? I set him up. To deliver, in a very short time frame, something that became very challenging to deliver,” he continued. “That’s not what that show is. He had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Find his muse. And so I think that’s what I learned from it. Don’t do that anymore.”

That’s an insightful comment from Lombardo, because indeed, it wasn’t long after the first season aired that Pizzolatto was churning out all the scripts for season two. That said, that is where the benefit of a writer’s room really comes in handy, and it’s something we haven’t seen yet in “True Detective.” And if the show is something HBO wants on a regular basis, it’s likely a path they’ll have to go down and/or convince Pizzolatto to take.

Meanwhile, Lombardo also addressed the issue of nudity, one that seems to dog HBO, who have earned a reputation for showing flesh at every opportunity. But he insists there is no master plan to put more boobs in their shows than need be. 

“…I’m often told that relative to other premium services, we don’t have enough nudity. But here’s the truth. I’m a gay guy. I don’t particularly care about female nudity. We have never given a note to say, ‘More nudity.’ I think the truth is, when you’re in certain worlds — we’re very creative-friendly. If you’re going to sign on for certain shows, that’s part of the journey,” Lombardo said.

“Look, we live in a puritanical society. I think the real issue is why actresses are saying [there’s excessive nudity] and not actors. And that is, by the way, a valid question, and I’ll tell you why that is. Because white men produce the shows,” he added. “And there is some kind of… I was screening recently a show we did. And the actress is running across the screen completely naked. And then the actor runs across the screen completely naked. And yet somehow it’s pixelated, his genitalia. And I’m like, wait a second. Why is a man’s genitalia so much more ‘verboten?’ And if you ask guys, they’re gonna go, ‘Well, you know, guys are sensitive about size and blah blah.’ And that’s bulls**t. So hopefully, that’s an argument you just made for diversity. Put a female showrunner on, trust me. It’s gonna be equal opportunity. “

Thoughts? Share ’em in the comments section, and listen to the conversation with Lombardo below.

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Great article Kevin. For those who can access HBO Nordic in their county like me, you can use UnoTelly or similar services to get around the block.


"Pizzolatto himself has said on record he wrote the scripts for the first season in a handful of days?"
I find it very hard to believe that he wasn’t planning it out for a long time beforehand


I enjoy Lombardo’s "creative-friendly" attitude in regards to letting show runners make what they want, but his comment regarding female nudity and being unobservant to it because he’s gay is bull. Considering how many of the shows produced by his network that do promote equal opportunity for nudity, his disregard for only female actresses stripping down only reinforces his complain-a-point about the TV industry existing in a puritanical society. Way to break down barriers and marginalize your own perspective, President of HBO.


No male nudity? Everytime you turn around (pun not intended) there is man butt on the screen. Its actually now as overdone as female nudity?


"And I’m like, wait a second"(?) This is the head of programming at HBO talking — the guy responsible for "content"? Where’s David O. Selznick when you need him?


The reason why male genitalia is censored, is because men are sensitive about their size? That’s the first I’ve ever hear that excuse. I rather thought it was because many women are afraid of penises, and people think they have to be "protected" from seeing them.

And even though we frequently see naked breasts on film and tv, I dare say showing penises is more common than showing vaginas. The last time I can remember seeing a vagina on film was Rosario Dawson in Trance (2013).

Christian Bale

Season 2 is very underrated.


Why don’t we all just shake hands on this silly matter and go watch season two on mighty bluray now that it’s out.

Honest Joe

Wait a sec. Pizzolatto himself has said on record he wrote the scripts for the first season in a handful of days?


I like this guy. Refreshing attitude.


Damn. That is one transparent dude.

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