HBO News Blog

HBO Development Slate: THE LOOP; FAMILY DRAMA; Ritchie Sambora & More

By Jef Dinsmore on Sep 8, 2015 to HBO News

dev-logoIt is time to catch up with some development news that is circulating. HBO is always trying to come out with the next funny or exciting program as HBO ramps up its future. It is already lining up big dramatic series in VINYL and WESTWORLD plus adds SESAME STREET & VICE to cover the channel from morning to night. What else will it add? Consider the following.


  • The Dark Comedy THE LOOP May Be In It

The most recent concept in development is billed as a half-hour dark comedy. The project is about a couple who downsizes everythinPeople_Hower&Lehrg and chooses to sail “The Loop” — a nautical course that cuts through the heart of America. All goes wrong when they become entangled in a smuggling ring.

Yeah, I know it sounds way too vague to get excited about but, I just report it.  Nancy Hower and John Lehr (pictured) are the creators, producers and writers of the potential series. They have done such shows as Quick Draw, which aired for two seasons on and 10 Items Or Less for TBS. HBO seemed pleased enough to throw some money at it, so it is a waiting game now to see whether THE LOOP is in the loop.

(Source: Deadline)


  • Anthology Series FAMILY DRAMA in Development

TV is getting into the habit of creating a number of anthology series lately. Another such concept has been placed into development at HBO. It is entitled FAMILY DRAMA but is meant to be a comedy series with rotating stories each season it is alive. This anthology series is being put into development by Lynn Shelton (pictured), her frequent collaborator Megan Griffiths and TRUE BLOOD executive producer Gregg Fienberg.People_LynnShelton

According to The Wrap it will follow a different family every season (within the same city — Seattle) as an explosive event or revelation rips open and exposes the family’s driving emotional flaw, forcing its members to finally confront and deal with each other. Remember though, it sounds dramatic and serious but is being called a comedy. That will create a different take on dramatic issues that can rock any family at any time.  

Shelton, Griffiths and Fienberg will all serve as writers and executive producers on the series, and Shelton would direct the pilot should the project move forward. We got you the news but it is just too soon to say what will happen with it. As always we will keep you posted.

(Source: The Wrap)


  • Jason Katims Hopes To Bring US. To HBO

People_JasonKatimsYou might not recognize the name Jason Katims (pictured) out of the list of producers/writers out of Hollywood, but you will recall some of the works he has been involved with over the years. His most recent is The Way for Hulu but other titles include the series’ Parenthood, About a Boy, Friday Night Lights, Boston Public, Roswell and My So-Called Life. Now he has pitched a pilot to HBO and it awaits a green light or a red one. It is entitled Us. and is categorized as an hour-long relationship drama, which is right up his alley.

Us. (complete with period)  is described as a sweeping examination of the often baffling, sometimes unexpected but ultimately heart-wrenching ways love and human connection can be found today through a vast web of seemingly unconnected people. Katims called writing his first premium cable show for HBO “a dream come true.” Now, HBO has had relationship stories before, like SIX FEET UNDER, but the key words here are ‘sweeping’ and ‘vast web.’ It almost makes it sound like it is one of those planet-wide we-are-one-family-bound-by-love kind of tropes. But, it is way too soon to really judge that, just based on Katims filmography and a one sentence description of Us.

HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo said, “Jason is one of the most gifted writers working in television or any other medium, and we are thrilled that he will be bringing his unique storytelling talents to HBO.” Time will tell if HBO likes the pilot enough to push Us. to series status.

(Source: Deadline


  • SNL Writer Working On A HBO ComedyPeople_PaulaPell

Emmy winning writer Paula Pell (pictured) has got a half-hour untitled comedy in the works at HBO. The concept centers on a fallen Olympic figure skater who returns home to Massachusetts to confront her former bullish coach and narcissistic mother who have cashed in on her success. Luckily, she is no stranger to comedy as she has a long20-year stint with Saturday Night Live on her resume. She also wrote the movie Sisters for Tina Fey & Amy Poehler.

She teams up with Michelle Lawler and they are both set as writers and producers of the show. Lawler has short films to her credit and got honors for Best Short Film in 2014. HBO’s Sue Naegle will serve as executive producer if all goes according to plan.

(Source: Deadline


  • Bon Jovi’s Sambora Rocking a Potential Series

People_RichieSamboraRichie Sambora, since departing the rock band Bon Jovi as guitarist, is seeking new ventures. One such venture is with HBO as he puts onto a development a series for the network.

According to our source the show will be of the trials and tribulations of a rising rock band, which is something he should know a bit about. . He said that he was initially contacted to give his expertise as a music supervisor for the network, but they were interested in his idea for a script. Evidently, his initial thoughts were leaning towards a biography. He is quoted as saying –

“It’s like, I don’t want to do that clichéd thing about who slept with who, what substance happened here, what was going on there. I’m a Jersey guy, so I keep everything to the chest. I don’t want to talk about anybody anyway, right? Plus, I have a daughter… So I said, ‘Why don’t I write a teleplay?’ I went between [being a] record company president [at age 28], and then I had another label. I was a manager. I’m a mentor, I’m a songwriter for other artists. I produce other artists…I have all that life experience.”

So, if you believe it, he has gone from music consultant to a pitchman of a better idea to a creator of that idea. We will keep our ears tuned for any more news on this rock-and-roller’s project.  

(Source: Billboard)  


  • Emmett Till Story From Jay-Z In the Plans

Jay-Z, Will Smith and Aaron Kaplan are teaming up as producers of an HBO Miniseries that will highlight one of the pivotal crimes to launch the Civil Rights Movement. It is the story of Emmett Till (pictured). People_EmmettTill

Our source fills us in on the actual events: Chicago native Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi in August 1955 when he spoke and possibly flirted with Carolyn Bryant, the 21-year-old White co-owner of a local grocery store, reportedly asking her on a date. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till’s great-uncle’s house, forcefully took him and tortured him before shooting him in the head throwing his body in the Tallahatchie River. Till’s mother Mamie insisted on an open-casket public funeral, with the image of the boy’s mutilated body shocking the country. (The original casket is now at the Smithsonian.) In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till’s kidnapping and murder though later admitted to killing him under the shield of the double jeopardy provision. Mamie did a very successful tour for NAACP telling the story of her son, which is considered a tipping point for the civil rights movement. Three months after Till’s death and two months after the trial, Rosa Parks of Montgomery AL refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider. “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back,” she later recalled.

It is a powerful story and one that Jay-Z and Will Smith clearly wanted to get behind. Their respective companies, Roc Nation and Overbrook will serve as producing bodies alongside Kaplan, who is already working on an HBO project. His Kapital Entertainment is responsible for the upcoming DIVORCE with Sarah Jessica Parker. Till’s story sounds like one to be told.

(Source: Deadline)

I enjoy showing people the potential projects out there. Most might never materialize, but at least you are aware of how hard HBO tries to find the next exciting program.    

  • Ellie Wilkin

    I think The Loop, Family Drama and Emmett Till sounds pretty promising. I love a dark comedy and The Loop sounds like it’s got a lot of room for some interesting events to occur, same as Family Drama which has a Desperate Housewives vibe, I enjoy sprawling narrative pieces so that’s a box ticker. A civil rights movement movie with Jay Z and Will Smith behind it sounds like it can’t fail, as long as Will Smith isn’t actually in it!

    • Jef Dinsmore

      With all the potential works out there in one stage of development or another I can’t see why HBO does not expand off of Sunday nights.

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