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HBO programming chief talks ‘True Detective’ haters, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’s’ fate

Is the second season of “True Detective” the cycle only its network programming chief could love?

OK. We’re exaggerating. There are plenty that love/like it. But the latest installment of the HBO limited series hasn’t quite reached the same acclaim as the original. It seemed to have all the makings to carry on the allure of its Woody Harrelson/Matthew McConaughey-led predecessor -- it boasted an all-star cast including Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, and Rachel McAdams, and was once again being written by creator Nic Pizzolatto.

But critics mostly panned it. And, sure, there’s a legion of viewers (about 12 million per episode) still tuning in each week, but some do so to hate-watch.

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HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo addressed the so-called haters Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills.

“I had been on vacation,” Lombardo said. “I came back today to see you all and I became aware that some of you had tweeted, written some comments about ‘True Detective’ -- that you weren’t enjoying it as much as you thought you would.”

“Here’s what I think,” he added. “I think Nic Pizzolatto is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today. I think he takes a big swing. All I can tell you is I think the show’s ending is as satisfying as any show I’ve seen. And, look, much like all of our shows, I didn’t believe this season or last season was intended for as big an audience as we’re getting. I’m enormously proud of it. If [Nic] wanted to do another seasn, I told him our door is open. I would love to do another season with him. I think he is a spectacular writer.”

Full coverage: Television Crtitics Association press tour 2015

He returned to the topic later in his Q&A with reporters. Asked whether he would offer some notes ahead of a possible third installment given the reception its current iteration received, Lombardo was quick to defend this season.

“I think the show works,” he said. “First of all, I think you need to watch the entirety of it. I have. And I think it’s enormously satisfying.”

In regards to any notes that might be passed ahead of future installments, Lombardo shot down the notion.

“I’m not in the business of micro-managing the process,” he said. “I think Nic is a very bold storyteller, and I mean that only in the most postive ways. I think he takes risks in the way he lays out his stories, in the pacing of stories, and I think it pays off.... I know he speaks to people. He speaks to me. That doesn’t mean he’ll speak to you. I have already called him and said, ‘Nic, if you want to do a Season 3, let’s start talking.’ I’m not calling him to say, ‘Let’s talk about Season 3 if you follow some rules I have.’ That’s not a conversation I’m interested in having or even need to have.”

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Believe it or not, Lombardo’s 20-minute-plus talk to reporters didn’t center on just “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones.”

Also mentioned was the fate of the comedy series “Divorce,” which puts HBO back in business with “Sex and the City” heroine Sarah Jessica Parker. Lombardo said the show is currently being written. Production will start at the end of this year, with a roll out slated for summer or fall of 2016.

And for all you “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fans, Lombardo indicated it’s just a matter of time before the network’s beloved curmudgeon will make his return.

“The last time I saw Larry [David] was right before his play [‘Fish in the Dark’] premiered,” Lombardo said. “He pulled out a little notebook and said, ‘Know what this is? It’s the next season.’ ... I don’t think it’s out of his system. I think he wants to have something to say.” But Lombardo added: “We have nothing planned for next year.”

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I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

MORE ON “TRUE DETECTIVE”:

Review: The TV we deserve? ‘True Detective’ season 2 and the age of microcriticism

A Times writer’s take on ‘True Detective’s’ Vinci: That was Vernon in a nutshell

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