HBO President Addresses ‘Confederate’ Backlash: ‘It’s a Risk Worth Taking’

TCA 2017: Casey Bloys says the way the show was announced was a “mistake”

Casey Bloys
Getty Images

HBO President Casey Bloys addressed the harsh backlash the network received surrounding “Game of Thrones” creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff’s next project at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday.

The series “Confederate,” which envisions an alternate reality in which the South successfully seceded from the Union and slavery still exists, was hit hard by detractors who saw the announcement as a potentially problematic project from the duo, who will be joined by Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman as executive producers.

“The bet for us is on our talent,” Bloys said. “We have a long history at HBO of betting on our talent, and we’re going to stand behind them … These four writers are at the top of their game. They could do anything they want. But this is what they feel passionately about, so I’m going to bet on that.”

“They feel — and I support them — it’s a risk worth taking,” he said.

Bloys did admit that the way the show was rolled out to the public — in a press release with a logline, before any scripts were written or details were hashed out — was a “mistake.”

“I think we could’ve done a better job with the press rollout,” he said. “If I had to do it over again, what I would do to introduce the idea is what we ended up doing after the fact with the four producers, which is to have them sit with journalists.”

“Richard [Plepler, HBO Chairman and CEO] and I had the benefit of sitting with these four producers,” he explained. “We heard why they wanted to do the show, what they were excited about, why it was important to them. So we had that context. But I completely understand that somebody reading the press release would not have that at all.”

“Everybody understands that there is a high degree of difficulty with getting this right,” Bloys continued, adding that the series presents “a real opportunity to advance the racial discussion in America.”

“If you can draw a line between what we’re seeing in the country today with voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to public eduction and healthcare,” he said. “And draw a direct line between that and our past and our shared history, that is an important line to draw and a conversation worth having.”