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Prepping for Life After ‘Thrones’

New HBO content chief Bloys looks to keep premium net riding high 5/30/2016 8:00 AM Eastern
Casey Bloys is HBO's new president of programming, replacing Michael Lombardo, who last year led the network to a record 43 Emmys.
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New HBO programming head Casey Bloys will help the premium network keep up its criticial and viewer momentum.

New HBO programming head Casey Bloys will shepherd an impressive stable of scripted dramas, comedies, original movies and specials — the envy of most content distributors across virtually all distribution platforms — but he also has some holes to fill going forward.

 

Bloys replaces former president of programming Michael Lombardo. Under Lombardo, HBO last year racked up the greatest Emmy Awards performance in history, taking home a network record 43 of them in September, including a record haul of 12 for signature series Game of Thrones.

 

Bloys, who is also overseeing documentaries, films, sports and Cinemax programming, is in command of an upcoming slate HBO hopes will continue to thrive against emerging powers Netf lix, Amazon and Hulu along with more conventionally distributed rivals such as Showtime, Starz and FX.

 

With Game of Thrones winding down — it’s signed for another season and likely to have an eighth season, too, but showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss intimate the end is near — industry observers have wondered what HBO has cooking in terms of potential replacements.

 

High-profile springtime newcomer Vinyl, from creators Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese and starring Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano, failed to live up to the hype, although it will return for one more go-round.

 

Vinyl averaged 4.3 million viewers across multiple plays and screens, according to HBO. Juggernaut Game of Thrones, by contrast, averaged 7.8 million viewers for its May 22 episode.

 

Sources close to the network say Bloys — who focused mostly on comedy series, late night and specials projects at HBO before adding drama series when executive vice president Michael Ellenberg left earlier in the year — already has his hands on a number of high-profile projects scheduled for this year. They include 1970s porn-themed The Deuce, from producer David Simon (The Wire, Treme); and an adapation of Westworld from Star Trek and Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams.

 

Comedies Insecure from Issa Rae and Vice Principals, starring Danny McBride, are also in the queue, and drama series The Leftovers will continue with a third and final season.

 

Lombardo — credited with reviving HBO after a post-Sopranos creative slump with such shows as Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, True Detective and Girls — moves into a production role and will develop projects for the network.

 

His departure, after more than 30 years at the Time Warner Inc.-owned programmer, hit the trades the afternoon of Friday, May 20. The appointment of Bloys was announced May 23.

 

HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler praised Lombardo in a statement: “It goes without saying that Mike’s contributions over these many years, most especially in the last nine as president of programming, have been nothing short of extraordinary.”

 

Along with Ellenberg’s departure, HBO in December named longtime executive Peter Nelson as executive vice president of HBO Sports, replacing Ken Hershman, who had resigned a month prior.

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