With the end of Game of Thrones in sight, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have set their sights on their next TV project.
The award-winning duo will reteam with HBO for the drama series Confederate, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The drama chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes 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. 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.
Benioff and Weiss will write the project and serve as showrunners. Nichelle Tramble Spellman (Justified, The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire) are also attached as writers. The four will executive produce with Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones) and Bernadette Caulfield (Game of Thrones, Big Love). Production on Confederate will begin after the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, which is expected to air in either 2018 or 2019.
"As the brilliant Game of Thrones winds down to its final season, we are thrilled to be able to continue our relationship with Dan and David, knowing that any subject they take on will result in a unique and ambitious series," HBO president of original programming Casey Bloys said Wednesday in a statement. "Their intelligent, wry and visually stunning approach to storytelling has a way of engaging an audience and taking them on an unforgettable journey. Confederate promises to be no exception, and we are honored to be adding the talented team of Nichelle and Malcolm Spellman to the mix."
Confederate joins original dramas Westworld, which just nabbed 22 Emmy nominations, as well as the forthcoming David Simon period drama The Deuce, which is set to premiere in September. While the pay cabler has expanded its comedy offerings with recent entries like Insecure and Divorce, its drama offerings have dwindled in recent years with the recent third and final season of The Leftovers and the upcoming end of Game of Thrones, by far the channel's most-watched series ever.
HBO's other upcoming series include Succession from Adam McKay (The Big Short), Today Will Be Different starring Julia Roberts, the Amy Adams-led Sharp Objects and family drama Here, Now from former True Blood and Six Feet Under boss Alan Ball. As with Ball and The Wire's Simon, HBO has worked repeatedly with several of its most acclaimed creators, making a second collaboration with Benioff and Weiss all the more logical.
In anticipation of Game of Thrones' upcoming final season — the seven-episode seventh season launched on Sunday — HBO is already hard at work on four (potentially five) possible successor shows, with different writers attached to each project. Benioff and Weiss, however, will not have a role in any future Game of Thrones projects, opting instead to focus on ending the original series and now, seemingly, Confederate.
For Benioff and Weiss, Confederate would mark only their second TV series, the first being Game of Thrones. The Troy scribe and Lucky Wander Boy author, respectively, found enormous success with the adaptation of George R.R. Martin's beloved book series. They have each won four Emmys, including two for best drama series for Game of Thrones.
"We have discussed Confederate for years, originally as a concept for a feature film," said Benioff and Weiss. "But our experience on Thrones has convinced us that no one provides a bigger, better storytelling canvas than HBO. There won't be dragons or White Walkers in this series, but we are creating a world, and we couldn't imagine better partners in world-building than Nichelle and Malcolm, who have impressed us for a long time with their wit, their imagination and their Scrabble-playing skills."
Benioff and Weiss are repped by CAA, Management 360 and Hansen Jacobson.