HBO News Blog

Development Slate: Roach’s next Project; Ailes Project In & Out

By Jef Dinsmore on Jul 12, 2012 to HBO News

It is always exciting to see what HBO has on its mind. Imagine the talks that happen behind the doors shown at right. Some ideas have long gestation periods and others all of a sudden are in the works. Some, of course, fall apart along the way and never get made. This installment of the Slate looks at two different deals.


  • Jay Roach picks his next project

Though it should be no surprise to anyone that Jay Roach likes working for HBO there had been no talk of what was on his agenda after his last stint for the channel. We did note in an earlier Development Slate that he had signed on for a two-year contract with HBO. Clearly the pay cable channel has been endeared to the filmmaker after directing RECOUNT and his latest, GAME CHANGE, to critic and ratings success. In fact, look for the McCain/Palin film to be brought up again at Emmy time. How would he follow up on that? There was no buzz about him dancing around any project for HBO, though he did slip in a theatrical movie being released next month called The Campaign.

So, then today, out of the blue, we find the announcement of his next HBO project. It is a work called K BLOWS TOP and it is yet another politically themed project. But, this time it is a Cold War piece featuring the imposing figure of Nikita Khrushchev. The movie will be adapted from the book by Peter Carlson and tells of the 13-day visit to America by the Soviet Premier in September 1959 in the heat of the Cold War. Paul Giamatti is said to be ready for the role.

This deal shows simply how a successful filmmaker for HBO gets on the fast track to move forward with another project. Since he was already contracted to do something when Roach was ready he either walked into or called HBO offices and said that this is the project that interests him and the deal was quickly greenlit.


  • Roger Ailes In and Out at HBO.

First off, this news has been out for a about a week but it serves as a perfect example of the development deal that goes nowhere. It is about Roger Ailes, the big Kahuna behind the FOX News Channel. No, he is not trying to strike up any projects at HBO! One was actually going to be made about him and his empire. As various articles from various sites have reported HBO has a thing for telling stories about the Conservative perspective and this project was a go as of last week.

And then it wasn’t. Why did the deal fall apart? Just in the last day I have envisioned a scene straight out of THE NEWSROOM. You know, the scenes that just aired with Jane Fonda as the owner laying down the law with who to deal with? It seems that the Ailes biography was being developed for HBO by MSNBC talents Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski as executive producers. Do you see the danger here? The team from MSNBC, a rival network to FOX NEWS, optioned the rights to a book about Ailes entitled “The Loudest Voice in the Room: An Inside Account of the Rise of Fox News.”

You would think HBO would have been concerned that the piece would be a factual, unbiased and objective film considering the show runners. And they finally did a few days later. That’s where the meeting ala Jane Fonda must have come in to play. Finally HBO backed out of the project. It is interesting to note, however, the reason they declared for putting a stop to the story. HBO Films President Len Amato said, “We recently decided not to pursue the Ailes project. It had become clear to us before even receiving a script that due to our company’s CNN affiliation the film could never be seen as objective.” HBO did not come out to say it was a bad idea or that Fox rivals were even behind the project making it a dangerous piece to make. Regardless of the reason or who from upstairs did the shouting the deal is dead; at least at HBO.


As always HBOWatch will keep looking out for the next big deal heading HBO’s way.

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