'True Blood' Creator Alan Ball Steps Down as Showrunner

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"True Blood" showrunner Ball is developing a drama based on a controversial doctor in Kansas, for HBO. Devin Friedman will write.

Expect one big organizational change on the horizon for True Blood. Series creator Alan Ball has decided to step down from managing the writing and day-to-day showrunning for the series, HBO confirms to The Hollywood Reporter.

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"True Blood has been, and will continue to be, a highlight of not only my career but my life,” Ball says in a statement. “Because of the fantastic cast, writers, producers and crew, with whom I have been lucky enough to work these past five years, I know I could step back and the show will continue to thrive as I look forward to new and exciting ventures."

HBO released the following statement.

"When we extended our multiyear deal with Alan Ball in July 2011, we always intended that if we proceeded to True Blood’s sixth season that Alan would take a supervisory role on the series and not be the day-to-day showrunner. If we proceed to season six, the show will remain in the very capable hands of the talented team of writers and producers who have been with the show for a number of years.  This is the best possible world for both HBO and Alan Ball. Alan will remain available as executive producer to consult and advise on True Blood and he will be free to develop new shows for both HBO and Cinemax.  Banshee, on which Alan serves as executive producer, is the first in house series for Cinemax and is expected to begin production this spring."

A replacement has not been named at this time.

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Forbes was the first to disclose details of the impending shift in the management of the sexy HBO hit’s writers’ room. Reasons cited for Ball’s departure include exhaustion and the feeling that the series “had tired” last season. The cost of producing the series was also mentioned as a possible reason for the shift.

Clearly, Ball has enough to keep him busy without the day-to-day duties on True Blood. His crime drama, Banshee, got a series order from Cinemax for 10 episodes.

In addition to Banshee, Ball also has Wichita, an hour-long medical drama in development at HBO about a Kansas surgeon who inadvertently becomes the focal point of a contemporary political, cultural and ethical war surrounding late-term abortions.

Ball has communicated that his excitement for True Blood has run dry before. But the statements were viewed as posturing during contract negotiations, especially after the showrunner’s statements would take on a new levity after a deal is inked. Such was the case last summer before he signed a multiyear deal with HBO in July.

“Right now I’m in the middle of negotiating for a fifth season,” Ball told THR last June. “I don’t know if I have any left in me after that. We’ll see.”

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro