HBO Explains the ‘Big Little Lies’ Controversy at TCA

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HBO’s president of programming Casey Bloys on Wednesday addressed a room of TV journalists whose most pressing inquiries—aside from unrelenting digging for Game of Thrones spinoff-related details—centered on the recent controversy surrounding Big Little Lies director Andrea Arnold’s so-called “loss of control” over the hit series’ second season, first published by IndieWire on July 12.

“There is a lot of misinformation…that [executive producer] Jean-Marc [Vallée] decided to come in and take over the process,” Bloys said to a packed house inside the Beverly Hilton Hotel during HBO’s presentation at the annual Television Critics’ Press Tour. “Andrea did cuts for all seven episodes and handed them in. Jean-Marc was actually on break at the time, but the entire producing team asked him come in and hone the episodes. This is not unusual at all. This was biz as usual. I’d be hard-pressed to point to any show that uses a director’s rough cut.”

Bloys also maintained that Arnold, a veteran British-born director of such series as Transparent and critically-acclaimed indies like American Honey, knew from the start that the famously hands-on Vallée, who netted two Emmys in 2017 for Big Little Lies’ first season, would be “honing” her episodes upon their delivery.

“Andrea was never promised she’d have free rein,” continued Bloys, who also addressed the unprecedented number of editors—between nine and 11—credited on each episode. “Jean-Marc himself is an editor, and has a team of editors he works with. He is very particular about how he works.”

For her part, Arnold has yet to make any public statement surrounding the controversy first outlined in the IndieWire article.

As for a possible third season of Big Little Lies, which saw its finale air Sunday, Bloys demurred, but added that the series having existed at all beyond the scope of its source material, Liane Moriarty’s hit 2014 novel, was a surprise: “Having approached season two skeptically…never say never.”

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