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July 30, 2009

HBO executive session live blog...

HBO communications executive Quentin Schaffer introduces the network's press tour session by declaring, "Two years ago we were feeling beat up, now we're feeling upbeat."

Programing head Michael Lombardo and co-president Richard Plepler take the stage to take questions.

On the fate of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the executives said the show might still return: "That show been a challenge creatively because the creative vision behind that show passed away (Anthony Minghella) so we're trying to figure that out."

On when "True Blood" will return: "The hope and expectation is to bring it back next year ... It feels like  a summer show" -- Plepler.  

On former programming head Chris Albrecht now being a producer. "If he has something for us we'd be delighted to hear about it" -- Plepler.

On the TV Academy likely time-shifting several of its long-form categories out of the live telecast: "We understand the need for the Academy to provide a show that's entertaining as well as a show that delivers on the promise to recognize excellence in television... we're a little disappointed how they chose to achieve that end... we're waiting to get the details" -- Lombardo

Plepler adds: "It's just odd you would minimize categories which have huge viewership and an enormous amount of talented people..."

On whether HBO might bid for the Emmy telecast in response to the change: "We have explored the Emmy Awards a number of years ago ...there was a feeling among the Academy that they wanted the show available to as big or large cross section as possible ... I don't think our response would be a defensive one to bid as a tit-for-tat." -- Lombardo.

With "Flight of the Conchords" getting an Emmy nod for best comedy series, it sounds like the show is coming back: "When they're ready, we're ready... they have the added challenge of writing an album ... we're waiting for them to tell us they're ready." -- Plepler.

Lombardo adds: "We've told them we're ready to go for a third season."

"Big Love" will return in January. "The Pacific" will launch in March and eventually serve as lead-in to "Treme."

On whether "In Treatment" will return: "We're trying to put it together... it's adapted from series which there were only two seasons ... we're trying to see if it's possible."

On the likelihood of Martin Scorsese's "Boardwalk Empire" pilot being ordered to series: "By everything we've seen, it's fantastic, it's big, it's everything we hoped it would be" (which sounds like a big "yes") -- Lombardo.

On HBO's ratings rebound: "The key for us was rolling up our sleeves and reminding ourselves what defines the brand and opening up the doors to as much talent as we possibly could." -- Plepler

On HBO holding up during the economy: "No business is recession proof we've been incredibly resilient ... we feel cautiously very optimistic and 'resilient' is the way I would describe the way its help up....all of our viewership is up across all categories ... we don't have more money to spend, but we have an enviable amount of money to do the projects we want to do."

On Showtime's recent success: "I don't think it's a zero sum game, other people can do good work it doesn't negate our good work." -- Plepler

On whether the network would extend Bill Maher's season: "We'd love to find a way"

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