HBO's Confederate Still Has a Pulse

Confederate has not surrendered. At the Television Critics Assoc.’s summer press tour on Wednesday, HBO president Casey Bloys told TVLine that the controversial drama project from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss remains in development — despite the duo’s recently-inked deal with Disney and Lucasfilm to create a new Star Wars trilogy.

“There’s no change,” Bloys maintained. “They haven’t written anything. [David and D.B] still have to finish digital effects work on [Game of Thrones‘ final season]… and they obviously now have the Star Wars movie. But at a certain point they’ll tell us when they are ready.”

Confederate, an hour-long, sci-fi drama that envisions an alternate, post-Civil War world wherein “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,” was plagued by controversy from the moment it was announced last summer. Critics bristled at the idea of two white men — who have already come under fire for their portrayal of race (or lack thereof) on Game of Thrones — heading up a show about slavery.

Bloys conceded back in July that the network essentially botched the announcement. “If I could do it over again, [it was] HBO’s mistake, not the producers’,” he said. “The idea that we would be able to announce an idea that is so sensitive and requires such care in a press release was misguided on our part. We heard why they wanted to do the show, what they were excited about, why it was important to them. We had that context. But someone reading the press release did not. We assumed the response. We assumed it would be controversial. I think we could have done a better job with the press rollout.”

Confederate‘s creative team also includes two prolific African-American writer-producers: Nichelle Tramble Spellman (The Good Wife) and Malcolm Spellman (Empire).