Borne on a litter made of melted-down Emmys, HBO executives Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler arrived at the Television Critics Association press tour to survey their kingdom, reaffirming their power and proclaiming many more conquests to come. Among them: As many seasons of Game Of Thrones as they can possibly wring out of George R.R. Martin, swearing that they would continue the show for “as long as he kept writing.” (They add that they are already pushing their cast and crew to their very limits when it comes to episodes per season, however, as “there is no way they could physically do more than 10." No word on how many extras’ lives were lost before they arrived at this number.) Of course, Lombardo also admitted that he was not sure “where the show ends as opposed to the books,” but they did promise that, unlike Deadwood, they “won’t stop it before it’s ready to stop,” showing their benevolence and wisdom and also a basic understanding of ratings.
Similarly, the network has signed a multiyear deal with their other hit-maker, True Blood creator Alan Ball—though reportedly, the contract only locks him into that show for one more season. However, Ball offered his own assurance to fans that he has “no desire to leave,” only that he may then consider taking on a reduced role while he looks into developing new programs. In the meantime, he says that the writers are already well on their way toward developing stories for next year, including one about “how one of the vampires was made.” “Made shirtless,” we’re guessing he meant. How did that vampire become shirtless? You will find out!
Also replenished in the HBO coffers: A tenth season of Real Time With Bill Maher, which will continue to provide overlapping sarcastic bickering on the issues of the day and a place for P.J. O’Rourke to destroy every ounce of goodwill he earned at the National Lampoon. Unfortunately, the network kings could not speak with similar authority on another round of Curb Your Enthusiasm—currently enjoying its highest ratings in seven years—as the throne’s insistence on allegiance is no match for Larry David’s apathy, apparently. For what it’s worth, Lombardo did say, “For the first time ever after this season, Larry didn't say 'I never want to do this again,’” which is a sign that he says has left him “cautiously optimistic.” We are pretty sure we copyrighted that phrase. You now owe us 1 million gold ducats, HBO.
And finally, there are also new countries to be annexed—and one occupied but neglected territory of the 2008 drama The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which could see revival as a couple of standalone films. Most promising of these is, of course, the David Milch/Michael Mann gambling drama Luck, which will debut in Big Love’s old slot at the beginning of January. HBO holds these heavy dramas and feels the comforting weight in their hands, but it also knows there are cracks in their defenses, and that these are their half-hour comedy shows, the lack of excitement for which they termed “frustrating.” But no doubt they are already assembling their council at the HBO roundtable, and plotting an epic quest for humorous scenarios involving upper-middle-class people that will soon take them to the very edges of New York, and bring back the merriment to their television empire.