We recently took a hard look at the current state of HBO, which has seen the network hitting a rough patch of late, with a prestige drama that had a bumpy roll-out (“Vinyl“) and a strong handful of projects from top-tier directors like Steve McQueen and David Fincher skidding to a stop. Clearly, there is some kind of dynamic shift happening behind closed doors as the network adjusts to a new climate where they are facing more competitors than ever, both on the air, and online. And David Chase, the man who arguably started the new golden age of TV with “The Sopranos,” and cemented HBO‘s reputation for first-rate programming, has perceived a change in how things are done as he writes his mini-series for the network, “A Ribbon Of Dreams.”
“I haven’t worked with them for a long time and what I’ve heard is they don’t rely quite as much on the creator or the artist doing what comes naturally to him or her,” Chase told Deadline. “I remember when we did ‘The Sopranos’ I had three arguments with [former HBO President Of Original Programming] Chris Albrecht over six seasons, ten years. Yeah, I had three maybe four arguments with him and that’s nothing. Now from what I understand there’s a lot more back-and-forth.”
Depending on the type of creative you are, going from the movie world where you are inundated with notes then stepping into a similar situation at HBO might not be so attractive, and it may explain why the network is seeing so many projects in flux lately. But Chase seems to take it in stride, and for now, is just focused and writing his new project, which will run six hours long, and cover a massive time period, from 1915 to the present day.
“It was reported as kind of a history of Hollywood which it really is not, or at least that’s not what it morphed into,” Chase explained about his series. “I decided that we didn’t really need a fictitious history of Hollywood because there’s so many real documentaries that you could never capture the scope in a scripted piece. But it’s really about three people who go through their lives in Hollywood and Hollywood isn’t the backdrop, it’s actually the environment and it doesn’t cover everything about Hollywood that ever happened.”
Meanwhile, as for the chatter of a prequel for “The Sopranos,” don’t hold your breath. “I’m always disinclined to say, ‘No I’ll never do it.’ But I think I’ll never do it. I’m disinclined to say that because I don’t want my thinking to be constrained. I’ve said it from the beginning: If I had a really good idea and I thought it could be really entertaining and it wouldn’t upset what was done I might do it. But so far…,” he said.
Well, here’s hoping ‘Ribbon’ survives the development process, but otherwise, Chase offers a fascinating look at the perception of HBO from a creative point of view at the moment. However, it should be known that notes or feedback from a network is not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes helps showrunners and directors see new avenues when they might be too close to the material or need a different perspective. These comments will only fuel more discussion as HBO continues to evolve and establish their future slate of shows.