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HBO’s Lombardo on ‘Treme’ Renewal, Busy Slate

Entertainment chief says Simon show ”too important“ not to renew

HBO Entertainment chief Michael Lombardo just checked in with us for a MoJoe Quickie Q&A (TM) about the network’s quickie season two pickup for "Treme":

This isn’t the first time you’ve picked up a show after just one episode, is it?

The first season of "True Blood" we picked up in the first week. Whether it was after the first day, I don’t recall. But I must be candid: We knew we were picking this up (before the premiere). We were actually trying to arrange a phone call with David before we got numbers, but because of David Mills’ funeral, that was just impossible.

We were sure early on in a way that was unique.

Why is that?

First of all, we have some experience with David Simon. We know when he says he’s on to something, he delivers. We’d also seen the first nine episodes and we knew there was something incredibly powerful here. So if we’re going to be true to who we say we are, this is a show we needed to pick up, no matter what the numbers. It’s too good of a show, and too important a show, to not see where David was taking us.

And yet the early ratings actually aren’t bad.

You know what… as it turned out, it was a good ratings story. It bettered the fifth season of "The Wire" in terms of ratings. And in a world where the premiere numbers have become increasingly less important in terms of the total picture, that’s a good story. And I do believe word of mouth, and when we see how it does on multiplay, I think it will be a very impressive story.

Has David pitched you what a second season will look like?

This is the kind of show and these are the kinds of writers where (the renewal) wasn’t dependent on that. Plus, they’re still shooting. To ask David and Eric to stop– we trust them to wow us. We didn’t need it.

When will you shoot and air season two?

Given the challenges of shooting in New Orleans, they probably won’t be shooting until the fall. They’ll write over the summer, starting shooting in September and hopefully we will have it on the air a year from now.

You have so much product getting ready to air, or in the pipeline.

When we stepped into these jobs, we made a concerted effort to sort of open our doors and actually invite people in and encourage development. And we’re starting to see the fruits of it. A lot of stuff that we invested in development worked. We now have the quality problem of trying to do as much as we can do.

We feel very blessed right now.