HBO has added to its growing slate of 2008 pilots, including a post-Katrina New Orleans drama from “The Wire” creator David Simon and a Roaring Twenties period piece from filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
HBO executives, addressing TV critics at the network’s annual summer “press tour,” also said HBO Films is in the early stages of developing a sequel to the “Sex and the City” movie and would be eager to bring “The Sopranos” to the big screen, if series creator David Chase were willing.
On the TV front, Scorsese is teaming with longtime “Sopranos” writer-producer Terence Winter to produce a series pilot based on the book “Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.”
The project is set to shoot in January.
If ultimately picked up by HBO for its programming slate, “Boardwalk Empire” would mark the first produced scripted TV series from Scorsese, the veteran filmmaker who won an Oscar last year as best director for his work on “The Departed.”
For the New Orleans drama set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Simon is working with Eric Overmyer, who served with him as a consulting producer on “The Wire,” Simon’s just-ended HBO drama about police and drug gangs in Baltimore.
The new pilot is titled “Treme.” Simon’s latest HBO drama, the Iraq war miniseries “Generation Kill,” debuts on Sunday.
A third pilot order announced by HBO is “The Washingtonienne,” a D.C.-set comedy based on Jessica Cutler’s book to be executive produced by “Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker.
HBO West Coast president Michael Lombardo said the pilot pickups are part of the network’s effort to “ramp up the volume a little bit,” spearheaded by new entertainment president Sue Naegle.
“I feel like all of these projects are in the same vein” as what HBO has traditionally done, he said. “What’s different is the volume and maybe the strategy in attracting talent.”
HBO co-president Richard Plepler dismissed suggestions that the network is overly concerned about finding another huge hit along the lines of “The Sopranos” or “Sex and the City.”
“I think you have to listen for excellence and quality first,” he said. “Nobody knew when ‘The Sopranos’ came in the door that it would become ‘The Sopranos’ or that ‘Sex and the City’ would become ‘Sex and the City.’ All we knew is that they had excellent auteurs attached to them who had a real vision.”
Asked about a big-screen “Sex” sequel or a “Sopranos” film, Lombardo said there is “enormous interest” in doing another “Sex” movie, and that Warner Bros./New Line is working in partnership with HBO to put it together, though he doesn’t know how long that might take.
As for “Sopranos,” Plepler said: “Whatever (creator) David (Chase) wants to do. It’s totally up to David, and if he wants to do it, we would be delighted.”
HBO executives also brushed aside concerns about viewer interest in “Generation Kill,” even though recent movies about the war have not connected with audiences.
“It has nothing to do with politics,” Plepler said. “It’s really the story of this particular Marine reconnaissance as they went through Iraq without politics. It has nothing to do with the bureaucracy of war ... the politics of the war.”
In other HBO news:
- “Big Love” is in production to return in the first quarter.
- Chris Rock’s fifth stand-up special will air in September.
- The World War II miniseries “The Pacific” will air in late 2009 or early 2010.
- Larry David has told HBO he will do another season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and execs are hoping it will return at the beginning of next year. HBO has a deal with David for another 10 episodes, but it still depends on David, who is “excited about it,” Lombardo said.
- The chances of HBO and David Milch doing a “Deadwood” wrap-up movie are “slim to none,” Plepler said.