After eight years as HBO’s president of programming, Michael Lombardo is stepping out to pursue a different career path.
Lombardo is one of the prominent figures in HBO, masterminded Emmy winner series and critical darlings—a long list that includes True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, Girls, True Detective, Veep and Silicon Valley. Perhaps Lombardo’s biggest legacy is Game of Thrones, the obsessed-over series that continues to haul top ratings and awards, including a Best Drama win at the Emmys.
“I recognized that going forward, less and less of my time would be spent developing shows, that I would be spending less and less time with talent and more and more of my job is being a studio executive,” Lombardo told Deadline.
“I had gotten a taste of being a creative executive, and I was feeling a desire to do more of that, but I am too far up the totem pole to be able to spend time with a writer and help crack a script,” he added.
After stepping down from his position, Lombardo is expected to take on an engagement as a producer “for HBO and hopefully with HBO for third parties.”
At the center of HBO’s transitional period following Lombardo’s exit is Game of Thrones. Speaking to Variety, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss confirmed that the show still has two more seasons underway. However, its seven and eight outings will be shorter than the others. Game of Thrones Seasons 7 and 8 will only have 13 episodes in total.
Even without Lombardo’s leadership, Game of Thrones is still under the masterful direction of Benioff and Weiss. HBO’s real challenge at the moment, however, is putting together a solid replacement that could level with Game of Thrones, if not eclipse it.
So far HBO has picked up Lewis & Clarke, which will be produced by Tom Hanks, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. They will also offer a fantasy series titled Westworld. However, none of HBO’s lineup of new shows seems to have the same appeal as Game of Thrones, thus adding pressure on the cable network to work out a plan.
Meanwhile, Game of Thrones Season 6 episode 5 will air on HBO on May 22, Sunday.