TCA Press Tour: HBO orders more ‘True Blood,’ battles new Emmy plan

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There are more and more signs that HBO is getting its programming mojo back, but that was nearly overshadowed Thursday by a spat with the TV academy, a longtime friend to the premium network’s shows.

Executives arrived at the TV press tour in Pasadena with news of pickups for three series: the vampire hit ‘True Blood’ and the Hollywood comedy ‘Entourage,’ as well as ‘Hung,’ a new comedy-drama about a male prostitute. The programs will all return next summer with new episodes.


An HBO PR executive opened the session by saying that in the last few years, the network was feeling ‘beat-up’ but is now ‘upbeat.’ That was a reference to some harsh critical reaction and low ratings for such original series as ‘John From Cincinnati.’

But the network was miffed by a TV academy decision this week to pre-record and edit eight categories for the Emmy Award telecast this fall. The trimmed categories will most likely be in the ‘long-form’ - -that is, miniseries and made-for-TV movies -- that HBO has dominated in recent years.

‘We are disappointed,’ Michael Lombardo, president of HBO’s programming group and West Coast operations, told reporters. In a separate statement criticizing the Emmy decision, the network said officials seemed to be ‘focused on recognizing broadcast television.’

HBO’s unhappiness with the Emmys doesn’t end there. In response to a question, Lombardo said the network was also disappointed that the drama ‘Big Love’ didn’t generate more nominations.

Despite all that, Lombardo and Co-President Richard Plepler said that they had no plans to make a renewed play to nab the Emmy telecast for HBO, as happened a few years back.

‘We understand it works for them on the broadcast networks,’ Lombardo said.

-- Scott Collins

[Updated at 6:13 p.m.: In an earlier version of this post, the headline referred to HBO’s show ‘True Blood as ‘True Love.’]