HBO Admits ‘Misguided’ Announcement of ‘Confederate’ Slavery Drama
Regardless of whatever Game of Thrones bosses David Benioff and Dan Weiss did next, a new modern slavery drama was not something to announce lightly. Now, HBO acknowledges that Confederate needed more consideration of its audience, if not the premise.
For those unaware, HBO’s Confederate sees David Benioff and Dan Weiss partnered with Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman to imagine an alternate reality of modern slavery after two civil wars. The Spellmans later clarified a few points of the announcement, including that the four were equal partners in the project, as well that slave imagery like “whips and plantations” wouldn’t factor in.
HBO boss Casey Bloys acknowledged the backlash from the 2017 TCA press tour, admitting they were “misguided” to think a press release alone could allay concerns (via Entertainment Weekly):
File this under hindsight is 20/20. If I could do it over again, HBO’s mistake — not the producers’ — was the idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive that requires such care and thought on the part of the producers in a press release was misguided on our part. [We] had the benefit of sitting with these four producers, we heard why they wanted to do the show, what they were excited about, and why it was important to them, so we had that context, but I completely understand that somebody reading the press release would not have that at all. If I had to do it over again, I would’ve rolled it out with the producers on the record so people understood where they were coming from.
No scripts have yet been written (nor will production begin until after Game of Thrones’ final season in likely 2019), though Bloys referred back to Malcolm in pointing out that they’ve long expected the controversy:
I think Malcolm said it best in one of his interviews: ‘This is weapons-grade material we’re dealing with.’ Everybody understands that there’s a high degree of difficulty with getting this right. But the thing that excites them that excited us is if you can get it right, there’s a real opportunity to advance the race discussion in America. Again, what Malcolm said in one of his interviews was, ‘If you can draw a line between what we’re seeing in the country today with voter suppression, mass incarceration, lack of access to public education or healthcare, and draw a direct line between that and our past and our shared history, that’s an important line to draw and a conversation worth having.’ So it is very difficult, and they acknowledge there’s a high degree of difficulty, but they all feel — and we support them — that it’s a risk worth taking.
We’ve time yet before Confederate genuinely moves forward, but should HBO think about abandoning the idea?