HBO Bets Big on Miniseries, Comedy


Beverly Hills, Calif. — Home Box Office is spending big on upcoming miniseries and adding to its Entourage.

The premium service has renewed its ensemble comedy for a third season, and is working on a pair of big-budget miniseries, according to Home Box Office chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht.

Entourage, tracking the exploits of a young star actor and his crew from Queens, N.Y., as they navigate the Hollywood scene, will receive at least 13 more episodes, said Albrecht.

Speaking during the network's Television Critics Association Tour presentation here on July 16, Albrecht said the network will develop a miniseries based on John Adams, the nation's second president. Actor Tom Hanks will produce the 10-hour miniseries, as well as a World War II project centered on the Pacific Theater with Steven Spielberg.

“Those two projects alone will cost probably $300 million, so I don't think anybody is playing on the same planet as we are when it comes to that level,” Albrecht said.

News about the miniseries projects came as HBO prepares to unveil another high-profile and high-budget project: Rome, set to bow on Aug. 28.

The 12-episode show, produced in conjunction with the BBC, reportedly cost $100 million to produce.

In addition to Entourage, HBO is looking to up the funny quotient elsewhere. On July 30, it will air Bill Maher: I'm Swiss, a 90-minute special, bowing at 10 p.m. Taped before a live audience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Ore., Maher's special sets the stage for upcoming stand-up from George Carlin on Nov. 5, Robert Klein in December and Dennis Miller, early next year.

Carlin will deliver his 13th performance on the network and his fifth live show, this one from New York's Beacon Theater.

Klein, who headlined the first HBO comedy special 30 years ago, returns for his eight concert and first since 2000; it will be taped in October.

Miller will tape his seventh solo special for HBO in Las Vegas this November.

The network will also roll out One Night Stand, a series of 10 half-hour stand-up performances, starting Aug. 19 at midnight, following new editions of Real Time with Bill Maher.

Presenting up-and-coming comedy talent as well as seasoned performers in front of a live audience, the show will feature Kevin Brennan, Bill Burr, Louis CK, Omid Djalili, Earthquake, Flight of the Conchords, Bonnie McFarlane, Jim Norton, Patrice Oneal and Caroline Rhea, according to HBO officials.

On the series front, the 10-episode, fifth season of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm is slated to bow at 10 p.m. on Sept. 25, leading out from an installment of Rome. New series Extras, starring Ricky Gervais (The Office) as a bitter, aspiring actor who gives up his day job only to find that no big movie parts await him, will follow Curb at 10:30 p.m.