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HBO Boss Explains ‘Game of Thrones’ Delay and Spin-Off Ideas

TCA: New HBO programming president Casey Bloys addresses the retroactive cancellation of "Vinyl" and teases when "Curb Your Enthusiasm" may return.

Kit Harington

“Game of Thrones”

HBO

As long rumored, “Game of Thrones” will end after Season 8, but that doesn’t mean the franchise is over.

HBO programming president Casey Bloys, in his first meeting with reporters since taking over the top job earlier this year, said he was open to the idea of spin-offs… but nothing was concrete yet.

“It’s something I’m not opposed to. [But] it has to make sense creatively… I’m open to it,” Bloys said.

For now, showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff are focused on Season 7 production and don’t have time to kick around spin-off ideas.

READ MORE: Jon Stewart’s New HBO Animated Project will Parody Cable News

As previously announced, HBO will air seven episodes of “Game of Thrones” next season, but no episodic count is confirmed yet for the final season. “We’ll take as many as they want to give us,” Bloys said.

The decision to end “Game of Thrones” after eight seasons comes from showrunners Weiss and Benioff, who “have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do. I would take 10 more seasons. We take their lead.”

With “Game of Thrones” pushed to next summer Bloys admitted that HBO would take a bit of a hit by not having “Game of Thrones” in contention for Emmys in 2017. “It’s always better to win more Emmys,” he said. “That said, that’s not our main goal. Our main goal is to do the best show possible. We took [Weiss and Benioff’s] lead. Shooting in cold climate is what they need.”

READ MORE: If ‘Game of Thrones’ Can’t Win an Emmy in 2017, What Does That Mean For HBO?

Although the byproduct means no “Thrones” in the Emmy race next year, he pointed out that “even if you took ‘Game of Thrones’ Emmy [nominations] away, we’d still have more than anyone else.”

Casey Bloys

Casey Bloys, HBO

HBO

“Vinyl” Post-Mortem

Bloys also addressed the decision to retroactively cancel “Vinyl” after originally greenlighting a second season: “The decision to pick it up was an optimistic one,” he said. “[But] with a little bit of distance, thinking about what we want to do going forward, it becomes about priorities. If I’ve got limited resources, there are other things we’d like to do.”

Ultimately, even after dismissing original showrunner Terence Winter, the network’s execs asked themselves if the show was going to go “from good to great,” and decided they “didn’t think it was worth the time to move the needle just a little bit.”

“Vinyl” is just the latest in a string of HBO series to initially be renewed, and then later canceled. “I’d like to not have to do that again,” Bloys said. “We will more carefully consider going forward. It’s not something that I like to do or relish doing.”

HBO Films and a “Deadwood Movie”

Meanwhile, David Milch is in the middle of writing a script for the long-gestating “Deadwood” movie, so HBO execs haven’t seen it yet. “I imagine it will be very good,” Bloys said.

Asked about whether a Donald Trump film might be on the horizon, much like HBO’s 2012 “Game Change,” Bloys hinted that producers Jay Roach and Danny Strong attended the Republican convention and were poking around for ideas. But for now, “we’ll have to see what happens” first with this election.

Bloys also took some heat for the violence against women depicted in series like “Game of Thrones” and “Westworld,” particularly graphic scenes of rape. “The criticism is valid,” he admitted.

READ MORE: HBO Sets ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 7 For Summer 2017, Reveals Episode Count

Premiere Dates

The network also revealed premiere dates for its major fall launches: The dark sci-fi drama “Westworld” premieres Sunday, Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. ET, while Sarah Jessica Parker’s “Divorce” and Issa Rae’s “Insecure” debut back-to-back on Sunday, Oct. 9 after “Westworld” at 10 p.m. ET. Additionally, the long-gestating “Vice News Tonight” will bow next month.

Bloys and his team are currently talking to Larry David about the next season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and production will “hopefully” begin this fall for a 2017 airdate, he said. “He’s gearing up for it,” Bloys said, “and my hope is most of the cast [will be back].”

Additionally, “True Detective” is “not dead” yet, although there’s no word on a third season. And “The Leftovers” returns for its third and final season next spring, filling the void left by “Game of Thrones'” move to the summer.

READ MORE: HBO in Transition: What to Expect As Programming Boss Michael Lombardo Exits

Also at HBO’s portion of the TCA press tour:

  • “Real Time with Bill Maher” has been renewed through 2018 (which will be its 16th season). The show, which recently aired special live episodes during the Republican and Democratic conventions, is averaging 4.4 million viewers this season – the show’s most-watched year since its first season in 2003.
    “As long as Washington keeps serving up crazy, we’ll be there to push it around the plate,” Maher said. “In these turbulent, uncertain times, I can’t thin of anything more important than me being on TV.”
  • The late Garry Shandling’s landmark comedy “The Larry Sanders Show” returns to HBO Now, HBO Go and HBO On Demand starting Sept. 23. HBO Comedy will also start re-airing the show on Sept. 26. HBO noted that it finalized the deal on March 23, the day before Shandling’s death.
  • Upcoming HBO documentaries include Alexandra Pelosi’s “Meet the Donors: Does Money Talk?” (Aug. 1), “Hitchcock/Truffaut” (Aug. 8), “Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks” (Sept. 19), “Class Divide” (Oct. 3), “The Hate Card: Jorge Ramos Reporting” (Oct. 24), “Marathon: The Patriots’ Day Bombing” (Nov. 21), “Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro” (Nov.), “The Trans List” (Nov.), “Patria O Muerte: Cuba, Fatherland or Death” (Nov.) and “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution” (Nov.).
  • Cinemax’s 1972-set “Quarry,” about a Vietnam vet who joins an underground killing network, premieres Sept. 9.

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