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TCA 2018: What a ‘Broader’ HBO May Look Like and 12 More Burning Questions for Summer Press Tour

Like: Will Tom Arnold have the Trump tapes? How much of ”The Conners“ will we see? And just what the hell is Rooster Teeth?

It’s the dog days of summer, which in the TV world can only mean one thing: Time for another Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour.

The twice-annual TCA event officially begins Wednesday morning, with HBO kicking off the weeks-long festivities at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. But before it wraps on Aug. 8, broadcast, cable and a small (but growing) sampling of streaming networks will present their fall series to TV critics, serving up their casts, showrunners and a few executives for a little Q&A.

TheWrap‘s got some burning questions before we even start, however — see what we’re pondering below.

How will Amazon gain back lost ground to Hulu?
Summer 2018 will mark the first TCA executive session for Jen Salke since coming aboard to steer Amazon’s content ambitions. Although it had some brief Emmys success with “Transparent,” Amazon is still looking for its big, zeitgeisty/breakout TV show to do what “Handmaid’s Tale” has done for Hulu. “The Marvelous Ms. Maisel” did manage to score 14 Emmys nods, but the Prime Video platform could still use a big, buzzy drama.

Julia Roberts to the rescue?

Will we hear anything about “Lord of The Rings”?
Speaking of both Amazon and big, buzzy dramas: We’ve heard very little about the billion-dollar play at a TV version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famed novels. With that other fantasy TV series on hiatus until sometime next year, Amazon could try to make some news before “Game of Thrones” sucks up all the oxygen when it returns for its last ride.

Hey, the I.P. worked out for the movies, but Peter Jackson may or may not be involved in this one. We’re still not sure — will we find out?

What exactly does a “broader” HBO look like anyway?
The press tour kicks off Wednesday morning with programming head Casey Bloys’ executive session — talk about a starter’s pistol with a bang. While Bloys is always a target for a ton of questions, there will be even more intrigue than usual this year. A few weeks ago, John Stankey, head of HBO’s new parent company, WarnerMedia, said the pay cable network needed to “broaden” its programming scope. This will be the first time any HBO exec will get a chance to tell us just what that could mean… or to set the record straight.

Good luck, Case.

What is HBO launching that could be the next “Game of Thrones”?
In case you’ve been living under a rock (which was on top of another, larger rock), “Game of Thrones” is ending next year. Bloys & Co. certainly hopes it already found its next tentpole series in “Westworld,” but the mind-bending drama just embarked on another year-plus long hiatus. HBO may already have a few contenders: The network has set its first “Game of Thrones” spinoff, which will go wayyyyy back into Westeros history, and the premium pay-TV cable channel has been quickly filling out the cast for its “Watchmen” project from Damon Lindelof.

As far as the new shows HBO is presenting panels for on Wednesday, here is the rundown: “My Brilliant Friend,” “Jane Fonda in 5 Acts,” “Sharp Objects,” “Camping and Pod Save America.” Yes, “Sharp Objects” did already debut and is pretty much already out of source material, but clearly that didn’t stop “Big Little Lies.”

What exactly is the plan for Facebook Watch?
Facebook makes its TCA debut this summer, albeit with just a lone executive session to talk about Facebook Watch, its year-old video platform. The social media giant has had a lot of stops and starts when it comes to long-form video plans, but the company is relying heavily on non-fiction programming produced by media outlets like CNN and Bloomberg, as well as a potential docu-series from soccer (sorry, futbol) superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

We know they’re not hurting for money over there, so what else you got?

Coming off “Cobra Kai’s” success, where does YouTube rank in the streaming wars?
Of all the online video streamers that are heading to TCA, the platform that started it all just might be one of the most interesting. YouTube had a surprise hit with “Karate Kid” sequel series “Cobra Kai” on its subscription service, YouTube Red, which has been rebranded as YouTube Premium. And the Google — err, Alphabet — arm is taking that “Premium” seriously, having set upcoming series from the likes of Kirsten Dunst, George Clooney and Jordan Peele.

Reference our above remark about Facebook’s savings account to see where the spending limit is. (Hint: It’s roughly just above the sky.)

What the hell is Rooster Teeth?
Something called Rooster Teeth is presenting an executive session at the Summer 2018 TCA press tour. But, ah, what is it? They somehow got noted anime-fan Michael B. Jordan (who does some acting on the side, in case you haven’t heard) to lend his voice to “gen:Lock.” So, there’s that.

We’re in this learning experience together.

Will Tom Arnold have the Trump tapes?
Could Tom Arnold be the man that finally brings President Trump down? And wouldn’t that be ironic considering Arnold’s ex-wife Roseanne Barr believes she is unemployed due to her support of Trump?

In September, Arnold hosts Viceland’s “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes.” On Thursday, he and executive producer Jonathan Karsh will present the show for the first time to our merry band of TV critics. But do they have the goods on Trump, as a photo posted by Arnold in June seemed to suggest? Hopefully we’ll find out a little something in just a few short (just kidding, they’re really long) days.

So where we at in “Peak TV,” John Landgraf?
This time in 2017, there were 342 scripted shows that had aired already, up from the 325 that had the year before. At the end up 12 months, the grand total was 455. Good lord — where are we going to be by the time Landgraf updates us in early August?

We’ll actually get much more detail from the FX chief and his team of researchers in January, but you know one of the critics in the audience is going to ask — and Landgraf will have an answer.

Who dominates TCA Awards: “Killing Eve” or “The Americans”?
In its very first crack at awards season, Sandra Oh drama “Killing Eve” leads the TCA Awards nominations with five nods. Interestingly enough, its closest competition is a show that’s ending, “The Americans,” which has four nominations.

Still, Landgraf’s FX isn’t feeling like a second-fiddle — with 10 nominations, his network leads ‘em all. Check out how the other finalists stack up here.

Will Tim Allen have a better TCA than upfronts?
“Last Man Standing” star Tim Allen bombed in his debut for the Fox broadcast network, which took place in New York City during May’s upfronts. Will he do better when Fox presents his revived sitcom early next month? We sure hope so.

Either way, Allen and the former ABC gang will definitely be there, and so should a trailer. For now, we’ve got this teaser to tide us over.

How much of “The Conners” will we see?
We ordinarily get trailers for fall shows, but this whole last-minute “Conners” thing could make that a bit tricky on ABC. We’ll see what we’ll see soon enough. Either way, you better believe Channing Dungey is practicing her Roseanne Barr responses in the mirror every morning until it’s ABC executive session time.

Seeing as how Disney-ABC is the second-to-last day of tour, expect the word “Roseanne” to be uttered on or around the ballroom stage roughly 375 times by Dungey’s 1-on-100 interview.

Which execs will answer fewer questions about Disney-Fox: Disney or Fox?
Both Disney and Fox’s TCA days will come after Disney and Fox shareholders officially vote on the deal. Considering last week’s news that Peter Rice and Dana Walden could be coming over to Disney in the acquisition, executives may have to navigate some potential minefields from pesky reporters.

It’ll either be awkward or informative — no middle ground. Perhaps that is the perfect summation for TCA.

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