Power Lunch 2017: 'Westworld' Showrunners and HBO Boss Casey Bloys at Jean-Georges
"Right now, our true power lunch is served from a styrofoam box."
It may not appear on this year's list — it opened June 1 — but Jean-Georges, on the lobby level of the new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills (Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the Michelin-starred chef behind New York's Jean-Georges and ABC Kitchen, also is responsible for the hotel's rooftop cafe), certainly will be a contender for THR's 2018 power lunch roster.
Having already hosted many a dealmaker powwow (Richard Plepler, Bob Greenblatt and Dr. Dre are among those who have lunched or had dinner here), Vongerichten's first L.A. eatery was the natural choice for a June 21 meeting between HBO programming president Casey Bloys and married Westworld showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. Like many Hollywood collaborators, the trio is geographically far-flung — Bloys is based out of HBO's Santa Monica headquarters, and Joy and Nolan spend most days in their Burbank writers room. But meals have featured prominently in the dealmaking and development of their shared hit: Bloys proffered pastries last summer before interrogating the duo about the timetable for the second season of their popular but pricey and labor-intensive drama.
"Wasn't it over doughnuts?" asks Joy with a laugh. Bloys' response: "I was thinking, 'How quickly can we get this going?' Always be suspicious when we lead with food."
Westworld, which brought in 12 million viewers per episode during its first season, saw its popularity further ratified by TV Academy voters this week. With 22 nominations for the 2017 Primetime Emmys, including one for best drama, it ties Saturday Night Live as the most-nominated series of the year. For Bloys, whose network scored a total 111 nominations, the coup certainly softened the blow of not having Game of Thrones eligible this cycle. (It does, however, return to the network on July 16.)
As for Joy and Nolan, the Santa Clarita locale for the bulk of the Westworld shoot means that most of their meetings, at least for the time being, won't be in venues as leisurely as one of the quiet Jean-Georges banquettes nestled under tropical curtains — nor will they include a dessert like the apricot sorbet and toasted almond panna cotta with strawberry jam and Italian lime meringue that they shared with Bloys. But the trio seem too pleased about having the show up and running again to care. Offers Nolan, "Right now, our true power lunch is served from a styrofoam box."