Sue Naegle will put her imprimatur on Home Box Office’s series slate quickly.
Naegle, the partner and co-head of United Talent Agency’s television department who was named president of HBO Entertainment last week, has ties to one of the premium’s network’s upcoming series, True Blood, and helped pave the way for a key talent meeting on April 4.
HBO co-president Richard Plepler said the programmer had been unsuccessful in trying to meet an actor it was contemplating to play the lead role in a pilot, before Naegle intervened and made it happen.
“We were looking for somebody with exquisite taste who had superb relationships in the creative community with writers and producers and fellow agents, who was widely respected and who would fit into the fabric of HBO, and in Sue, we really did find the perfect fit,” Plepler said.“She’s gone quickly from a friend of the court to our partner and we’re thrilled.”
Succeeding Carolyn Strauss, who resigned her position last month, Naegle will report to Michael Lombardo, president, programming group and West Coast operations, HBO.
Naegle, whose UTA credits include packaging ABC’s Men in Trees and the Fox sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, had already worked with HBO on family funereal series Six Feet Under and its creator Alan Ball. They will be teaming again as vampire series True Blood prepares to come out of the creative crypt this fall.
“Sue’s already involved with True Blood. It would be reductive to merely call Sue Alan’s agent; she’s a collaborator,” said Plepler. “Alan will be sending scripts and they will be working on the creative process.”
That kind of environment is one of the things that attracted Naegle to HBO.
“This is not a traditional form, like at CBS or ABC, where the development comes from outside of the network,” she said. “At HBO, the buyer/developer work more closely; the collaboration process goes further.”
She will also be integral to pilot decisions.
“There are a number of decisions to be made, projects we have not green-lit,” said Plepler, noting that he, Naegle and Lombardo will “roll up our sleeves” and work together.
Calling HBO’s current development slate “really strong,” Naegle looks forward to working with new talent.
“I’m fortunate to walk into great potential shows and what we’d like to do is just to open up the doors and bring in writers I’ve worked with and writers I haven’t worked with and always wanted to get to know, and see what’s out there and who’s got a point of view and a show in them that’s right for HBO,” she said. “I’m most excited to kind of jump on in and get to it.”
Among projects in various stages of development: Last of the Ninth from David Milch; Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, from Darren Star; and Driving Around with Joni.
As for HBO’s current series lineup, Naegle put her thumbs up -- even in the absence of the premium network’s biggest hit.
“Anytime you had a Sopranos and you don’t have a Sopranos, it could be seen as a weakness,” she said. “But HBO should be proud of the programs they have had on. They have been extremely well done and more of them would be great.”
That lineup is supposed to take manifest in the form of Generation Kill, a seven-part summer miniseries from David Simon, creator of HBO’s recently completed and highly acclaimed The Wire; True Blood, Hollywood buddy series Entourage and sketch comedy Little Britain are scheduled for fall; Flight of the Conchords, polygamist drama Big Love and the recently approved No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, from the late director Anthony Minghella.
Also set for 2009: the return of sex therapist show Tell Me You Love Me. HBO would also like to renew its other psychiatry series, In Treatment, if star Gabriel Byrne returns.
Similarly, Larry David’s outspokenly obdurate Curb Your Enthusiasm also seems likely to return sometime next year.
“There’s always a place in our home [for David]. Larry’s working on a Woody Allen film,” said Plepler. “We’ll have dinner in the next few weeks. We want to work with each other. This will happen.”
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