HBO programming boss Casey Bloys responded to reports that “Big Little Lies” director Andrea Arnold was robbed of creative control on the drama’s second season, calling out “misinformation” on the subject at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday.
“The director typically does not have final creative control [in television],” Bloys said. “The idea that creative control was taken from a director was a false premise.”
Bloys was responding to a report from earlier this month which said that Arnold was blindsided by Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallee being brought in to re-cut the episodes.
The executive pushed back on the idea that Vallee unilaterally took over creative control of the second season, on which he served as executive producer after directing all of Season 1. Bloys said the decision was made collectively by all of the show’s executive producers, including star Reese Witherspoon and showrunner David E. Kelley, to bring Vallee back in as an editor to “hone the episodes” once Arnold submitted her director’s cuts.
“For anybody who understands television and how it works, this was kind of business as usual,” he said, adding that he’d be “hard-pressed” to think of a television show that used a director’s cut as the final version for air.
Bloys also said Arnold was well aware of the situation when she signed on to direct all seven episodes. “Andrea was never promised that she would have free rein,” he said. “While we hired her for her eye and for her talent, we were clear — and she understood — that we were not looking to reinvent the show … There’s always the challenge of expressing yourself and staying true to the framework that was established.”
He went on to praise Arnold’s work, including the “extraordinary performances” she elicited from the cast. “We wouldn’t have a Season 2 without Andrea,” he said.
Bloys also addressed the potential for “Big Little Lies” to return once again, saying that while he would jump at the chance to work with the show’s cast and executive producers for a third season, he nonetheless sees the possibility as unlikely.
“I would never say never,” he said, noting that he spent years saying the same thing about a potential “Deadwood” movie which eventually came to fruition. “But to me, on the face of it, there’s no obvious place to go or no obvious story.”