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HBO boss addresses Game of Thrones backlash, says Watchmen creator ‘not thrilled’ with series

By Tara Bennett
Daenerys gives a speech in Season 8 of Game of Thrones

At the Television Critics Association's summer press tour day for HBO on Wednesday, the network's president of programming, Casey Bloys, addressed reporters' questions about HBO's full slate of current and upcoming shows — including high-profile genre dramas like Game of Thrones, His Dark Materials, and Watchmen.

First off, any sting from the backlash surrounding the series finale of Game of Thrones was certainly tempered by the show earning a record-breaking 32 Emmy nominations. Bloys admitted, “Their Emmy noms are certainly good validation.”

One of those nominations was for Gwendoline Christie as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Christie submitted herself in the category when HBO and the series executive producers did not. Bloys said he was thrilled she was included as a nominee and her exclusion was not an intended slight.

Sansa looking at dragons Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is unique because it has 28 series regulars,” Bloys explained. “We have someone who is an expert in awards and works with showrunners to figure out the best chance of success. The challenge is that if everyone submitted themselves, they could cancel out the entire show. There is strategic thinking, but if [anyone] decides to [self] submit, we’ll help them. Normal practice is that we don’t want to cancel out votes and the best chance of success in each category.”

Another topic that came up was the recent online fan-generated petition asking HBO to reshoot the final season. Bloys said he was aware of it and it was not something he, or the network, would seriously consider.

He also confirmed that the mixed audience and critical response to the Game of Thrones finale has not affected the yet-unnamed prequel series that just completed shooting in Belfast, Ireland. Bloys said of the footage he’s seen, “It looks really good. [Writer] Jane [Goldman] and [director] S.J. Clarkson are in the edit room now, but I haven’t seen any [cuts] yet.”


Outside of Westeros, HBO has Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen TV series, based on writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel, dropping in October 2019. Asked if the notoriously cantankerous Moore was consulted for the series, Bloys smiled and offered succinctly, “It remains the case that he is not thrilled.”

Iorek Byrnison (His Dark Materials)
And finally, the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials will also debut this fall, and the books have engendered plenty of pushback from Christians who are unhappy with Pullman framing organized religion as an oppressive entity. Bloys said, “I didn’t have any concerns. They are very thoughtful about it and their take on organized religion.”