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HBO Executives Discuss Programming

Stuart Levine at Variety interview HBO’s co-president Richard Plepler and programming president Michael Lombardo (who’s been a good source for Game of Thrones information) about their programming plans. Much of it deals with the challenges of programming when they have so many high-quality original series, mini-series, and documentaries, and having to turn away interesting, high-quality projects because they simply don’t have the room in their schedule.

They do discuss Game of Thrones to some degree towards the end of the interview, where they confirm it will air in the 2nd quarter. Here’s a few quotes:

RP: I would just say this: While it is a different genre, the storytelling piece, meaning the themes that it takes up—power and strife and people vying for their piece of the crown, metaphorically—those are themes that have been all over the network for years. And David Benioff, who’s the creator, had a wonderful line at the very beginning of this project. He said, “You’ll quickly forget where you are, because the themes are universal.” Having read all the scripts, I think that’s absolutely true.

ML: At this point, we have not seen any cuts. All we have seen are dailies.

RP: And the pilot. It’s beautiful.

And sci-fi fans and fantasy who have been very satisfied with “True Blood” are probably willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

ML: You know the interesting thing about this show is I am not a sci-fi fan, and this show really transcends the genre. When we first read the pilot script, there is nothing that really gives you a full hint of the magic in the Martin books. It’s a bunch of compelling and well-crafted stories. There are such interesting and complex characters that we were excited by the drama, not by the genre. I hope people don’t look at this as a genre play and refrain from taking a look at it, because I think it is much more than that.

RP: I think it’ll satisfy the passion of its natural fan base, but also intrigue and satisfy those people who might not typically be connected to the sci-fi genre. That would be fantastic for us, and I think that’s really likely.

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