‘True Detective’: Michael Lombardo Explains Surprise Emmy Submission

Last week, HBO shocked the Emmys and everyone else, when it submitted True Detective as a drama for this year’s ceremony, rather than a miniseries. The eight-episode anthology, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was a ratings juggernaut, and was expected to be the frontrunner in the Outstanding Miniseries or Movie category.

But placing True Detective in the Outstanding Drama Series category means it will compete against other hot shows like House of Cards, Mad Men, and the final season of Breaking Bad. HBO had been quiet on the decision until recently, when programming president Michael Lombardo spoke to Deadline about why True Detective should be in that category.

Lombardo said that creator Nic Pizzolatto never meant for True Detective to be a miniseries, and the people at HBO “always treated him as a creator of a series.”

“In our minds, this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” he said.

And some welcome the move, including Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, who spoke to Deadline‘s Pete Hammond at the premiere of his show’s final season.

“It’s a strange thing to me, but I like it, because what it says is that [Outstanding] Drama Series is the top prize,” Weiner said.

He admitted that he was “surprised” by HBO’s decision, but it also means that True Detective might be making the creators of other possible contenders very nervous.

“I was surprised they did it, but I bet that everyone who is in that drama category said, ‘Oh, s***’,” Weiner said. “That makes me think HBO did the right thing.”

He added that he has not watched True Detective yet, but he feels the move is “totally fine.”

“Competition is good for TV,” Weiner said.

The Academy has yet to approve of HBO’s decision to submit True Detective as a drama. But if the show does compete in the category, that means either McConaughey or Harrelson have a chance of possibly going against Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Bryan Cranston in the lead actor category.

What’s different about True Detective and the other contenders in the drama category is that McConaughey and Harrelson will not return for season two, and the show will relocate to another place and tell a completely different story. Pizzolatto has given very little details about the next season of True Detective, but he said in an interview with HitFix that it will be about “hard women, bad men, and the secret occult history of the United States transportation system.”