HBO executes a triple play

Orders three more pilots in effort to 'ramp up the volume' on series

HBO has added to its growing slate of 2008 pilots. The premium cable network handed out orders to three projects: "Treme," a post-Katrina-themed New Orleans drama from "The Wire" creator David Simon and Eric Overmyer; "The Washingtonienne," a D.C.-set comedy based on Jessica Cutler's book that Sarah Jessica Parker is executive producing; and a drama from Terry Winter and Martin Scorsese set in 1920s Atlantic City.

HBO co-president Richard Plepler and West Coast president Michael Lombardo made the announcement Thursday during the network's portion of the Television Critics Assn.'s summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton.

The Winter-Scorsese pilot, based on the book "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City," is set to shoot in January.

Lombardo said the pilot pickups are part of the network's effort to "ramp up the volume a little bit."

Plepler said HBO execs aren't overly concerned about finding another big hit of the size of "The Sopranos" or "Sex and the City."

"I think you have to listen for excellence and quality first," he said. "Nobody knew when 'The Sopranos' came in the door that it would become 'The Sopranos' or that 'Sex and the City' would become 'Sex and the City.' All we knew is that they had excellent auteurs attached to them who had a real vision."

Asked about a theatrical "Sex" sequel or a "Sopranos" film, Lombardo said there is "enormous interest" in doing another "Sex" movie and that Warner Bros./New Line is working in partnership with HBO to put it together, though he doesn't know how long that might take.

As for "Sopranos," Plepler said: "Whatever (creator) David (Chase) wants to do. It's totally up to David, and if he wants to do it, we would be delighted."

HBO execs also brushed aside concerns about the upcoming Iraq War miniseries "Generation Kill," even though recent theatrical entries with a similar theme have not connected with audiences.

"It has nothing to do with politics," Plpler said. "It's really the story of this particular Marine reconnaissance as they went through Iraq without politics."

In other HBO news:

> "Big Love" is in production to return in the first quarter.

> Chris Rock's fifth stand-up special will air in September.

> The World War II miniseries "The Pacific" will air in late 2009 or early 2010.

> Larry David has told HBO he will do another 10-episode season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and execs are hoping it will return at the beginning of next year.

> The chances of HBO and David Milch doing a "Deadwood" wrap-up movie are "slim to none," Plepler said. (partialdiff)