HBO has presently hit a very rough patch. While the network has renewed "Vinyl" for a second season, Martin Scorsese's expensive show (the two hour pilot cost $30 million, and the entire first season $100 million) premiered to low ratings and unimpressive critical notices. A double helping of David Fincher projects, "Videosyncrazy" and "Utopia," have been stalled, the miniseries "Lewis And Clark" ran into production problems, and just last month, Jonathan Nolan's "Westworld" hit pause to address concerns about the project. And now, another high profile show has been abandoned.
THR reports that Steve McQueen's "Codes Of Conduct," which was granted a six-episode limited series order last spring, has ceased production. Newcomer Devon Turrell and Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter and Rebecca Hall were to star in a drama centering on Queens youth Beverly Snow, who mixes with Manhattan's high society.
The trade also reports that the network is hoping Fincher will return to finish "Videosyncrazy" (four episodes have been shot), but plans to make "Utopia" without him. Last month, Casey Affleck revealed that HBO has called for rewrites for "Lewis And Clark," which likely means that the show will be starting over from scratch. As for "Westworld," there are rumors that Nolan is clashing with the network, and while there were hopes the series would be finished in time to debut this year, 2017 is looking more likely.
"Westworld' is wildly ambitious —on the page and on set," Nolan told THR. "In broadcast TV, it's been routine for us to write and shoot at the same time. This is a completely different animal. As we got closer to the final episodes, we realized we needed to take a break from shooting to catch up on writing. HBO and WBTV have been incredibly supportive throughout the process. It would have been literally impossible to make this show anywhere else."
And while this is hardly the first time HBO has scrapped a project with big names (see Noah Baumbach's "The Corrections") or retooled a show (the pilot of "Game Of Thrones" was famously reshot at great expense), the stakes are high: the network accounted for nearly one-third of Time Warner's profits in 2015.
This could all just be symptomatic of HBO going through a tough transition, with drama head Michael Ellenberg leaving the company last month. But let's hope they manage to ride through these times and get back on track.