That’s according to HBO co-president Richard Plepler, who addressed the media for the first time Thursday since taking over the pay service’s programming reins last month from ousted CEO Chris Albrecht.
Speaking during the network’s Television Critics Association tour executive session here, Plepler said the David Milch-produced series still hasn’t received a green light for the much anticipated movie finale. President of the programming group and West Coast operations Michael Lombardo and Plepler said there was a 50-50 chance that Deadwood would have a final theatrical sendoff, adding that the prospects for the film are “complicated” given Milch’s current work on HBO surfer series John from Cincinnati and the availability of the Deadwood actors. “It’s doable … but daunting,” Lombardo added.
As for a Sopranosmovie, Plepler said that’s a decision the show’s director, David Chase, will have to make. Regarding the show’s controversial ending, Plepler -- who admitted that he, too, was duped by the show’s surprising black-screen ending that left no true resolution of Tony Soprano’s fate -- said there was as much intrigue about the finale as there was disappointment.
“The conversation that took place after that show was startling to us,” Plepler said. “But the truth of the matter is that there were just as many people that who were passionately intrigued about the ending as were angry at the show, both in the media and on the consumer side.”
Overall, Plelper said the network continues to provide a compelling lineup of original content for its 28 million subscriber base -- which includes original series Big Love, Entourage and Rome, as well as documentaries and sports content -- sans The Sopranos, which ended its six-year run on the network last month. He added that HBO isn’t diverting much from the original programming strategy laid out by Albrecht, who left the company in May days after getting arrested in Las Vegas for assaulting his girlfriend.
In fact, Lombardo said the network has spent more money on original programming than any other year and will most likely top that figure again next year, although he would not reveal specifics.
“Truthfully there will never be anything that will top The Sopranos,” Plepler said. “The question is: Can we continue to put on excellent programming across a wide range of genres so that our subscribers feel they have something worth paying for? The best is yet to come.”