HBO could lose its thunder - Metro US

HBO could lose its thunder

DOES THE ‘O’ STAND FOR OVER? There’s been a growing eagerness to dump on HBO, in its floundering, post-Sopranos era, and while it’s often seemed a bit too much like backlash at times, a Hollywood Reporter story this week makes it look less like disappointment and more like diagnosis.

Critically acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem For A Dream) is the latest émigré from the big to the small screen – a move that’s almost entirely lost its once poisonous stigma – with the announcement that he’s developing a paranormal-themed series for AMC titled Riverview Towers, about a family whose new high rise home is infested with ghosties. So far, so Amityville Horror, but the real news was in one paragraph of the Reporter story:

“Aronofsky and (his producing partner Eric) Watson previously set up the project with (screenwriter John) McLaughlin at HBO more than two years ago. McLaughlin is now writing a new script for AMC.”

Thanks to Mad Men (season one out on DVD this July!), AMC is this year’s Showtime, while Showtime has become the new HBO, and HBO is, well, the company that somehow lost Aronofsky’s project at some point while the Sopranos, Deadwood and Rome were all going off the air. Just what, precisely, is HBO actually doing these days? And please don’t pretend that Flight Of The Conchords is the reason for a whole quality cable network to exist.

The Reporter story also mentions that Mad Men arrived at AMC after being discarded by HBO, and that, flush with success, AMC has four other new shows in the production pipeline: Fort Smith, Green Fields, Uninvited Guest and an as-yet-untitled western from director Alison Anders (Gas, Food, Lodging & Grace Of My Heart.)

In the meantime, Media Week ran a story that HBO has nothing new on the schedule for this summer, with Entourage, Big Love and Flight Of The Conchords bumped to the end of the year, and the premiere of Alan (Six Feet Under) Ball’s new vampire drama pushed ahead to the fall thanks to writers’ strike delays. With at least six months before they have anything new to show us, there’s plenty of time for HBO to have its thunder irretrievably stolen by everyone from AMC to Showtime to FX. Hell, at this point I think Nick2 and Lifetime could steal their lunch and plunge HBO back into the dark days of Standing Room Only and Time Was.

ONE REMOTE, ONE VOTE: Fans of JPod, the Douglas Coupland series canceled by the CBC last month, have organized a campaign to save their show, with a Facebook-based campaign and online petitions. While I have my doubts about whether this will work, I think the national broadcaster should be particularly vulnerable to viewer campaigns. With over 4,000 members on Facebook’s JPod group, it’s probably more people that have tuned into the Doc Zone on some nights.

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