HBO's announcement that Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss would next be working on a slave drama for the network, did not have the desired effect and led to widespread criticism, mostly over its "white male" producers.
During the Television Critics Association's press tour in Pasadena, California on 26 July, HBO president Casey Bloys addressed the subject, defending the network's decision to go ahead with the Confederate series while accepting that the news could have been released in a better manner.
"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," Bloys said according to Entertainment Weekly.
"[We] had the benefit of sitting with these four producers [Benioff, Weiss, Nichelle Tramble and Malcolm Spellman] 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."
Confederate is set in an America torn by a Third American Civil War. The series will take place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution, according to HBO.
The story follows a broad swath of characters on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Demilitarized Zone — freedom fighters, slave hunters, politicians, abolitionists, journalists, the executives of a slave-holding conglomerate, and the families of people in their thrall.
Bloys stressed that the producers' take on the subject is expected to be unique and not a regular depiction of slavery. "The producers have said they're not looking to do Gone with the Wind 2017," he said. "It's not whips and plantations. It's what they'd imagine a modern-day institution of slavery might look like."
The network president added that while the script for the show is yet to be written, it will allow audiences to draw a line of comparison between its fictional world and the current events taking place in the US.
"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," Bloys mentioned referring to Spellman's earlier remarks that one could 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 our past and our shared history".