HBO Executive on ‘Game of Thrones’ Ending, A New Danny McBride & Jody Hill Show, ‘Hunted’ Plans And More!

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HBO’s session for the Television Critics Association today began with an executive session with HBO CEO Richard Plepler and President of Programming Michael Lombardo. Fielding questions from the TCA, Lombardo addressed the future of many popular HBO shows.

Lombardo indicated that he had never heard the assumption that “Game of Thrones” would only last seven seasons to match the books. He’s interested in keeping it going as long as there is material.

“As far as I’m concerned, it can go on as long as there are stories to tell,” explained Lombardo. “I know there are issues with the book and catching up. We certainly haven’t gotten near that conversation with David [Benioff] and David [Weiss].”

Regarding the fourth and final season of “Eastbound & Down,” Lombardo indicated the end was freeing up Danny McBride and Jody Hill to create another show for HBO. “They’re going to take a look at high school life, that’s all I can say,” noted Lombardo. “It’s a really great funny quintessential Danny and Jody [project]. Also half hour.”

On the Cinemax front, Lombardo confirmed that Cinemax was not moving forward in its involvement with the “Transporter” series. Conversely, HBO/Cinemax lost their production partner on “Hunted,” so they plan to take the lead character, Sam Hunter (Melissa George) in another direction.

“We are developing something with Frank [Spotnitz] with that character in mind possibly as another series,” said Lombardo, adding he is open to a new pilot, or a series of standalone movies.

Before the passing of James Gandolfini, he had filmed a pilot for “Criminal Justice” for Steven Zaillian. Lombardo confirmed that he would not air the pilot Gandolfini shot. “I can’t imagine us airing the pilot with James in it,” related Lombardo. “But we’re having conversations with Steve Zaillian about how to proceed. Jim’s passing took the wind out of our sails quite a bit at HBO so it’s taken time to even have conversations with Steve about the future of that. He’s obviously a large presence, a fantastic actor, it’s hard to think about replacing him but we’re having those conversations. That was just the beginning of a journey and there’s no reason to air [it]. The conversation would be about reshooting obviously the portion that Jim had already performed in and recasting going forward.”

Fans of “Veep” can expect Selina Meyer to pursue her plans to run for president in 2016. “I think next season will see her on a bus a lot,” confirmed Lombardo. “She’ll be out on the campaign trail.”

A second season for the comedy “Family Tree” may be more likely than you think. “It is a co-production with the BBC,” noted Lombardo. “The BBC I think is interested in doing another season so all those conversations, yes. It’s a show that didn’t find as robust an audience as we hoped but no decision has been made. We’re just starting conversations with BBC on it.”

Heading into its fourth season, “Boardwalk Empire” doesn’t appear to be running out of any steam yet either. “Every year we have conversations with our creators about what they’re feeling, what kind of stories they still see for their characters,” said Lombardo. “I think the last time we checked in with Terry [Winter] he was energized by stories to tell. We haven’t had that conversation with him [about wrapping up the show.]”

CraveOnline will be at the Television Critics Association for the next two weeks reporting on all the networks’ new shows and announcements.