Be prepared, Insecure fans. Issa Rae's popular HBO show won't be back until 2020. Turns out Rae is a little too busy for HBO right now.
"Well, Issa became a big movie star!" said HBO programming president Casey Bloys to Vulture. "We're not the first place to deal with this, but when you're in business with very creative and talented people, there are a lot more opportunities for people to do things. Issa, I think, partly wanted a break to come back fresh."
Along with Insecure, Westworld, starring Tessa Thompson, Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton, will also come back in 2020, with Lena Waithe now joining the cast.
Insecure's hiatus will allow for the show to come back after some dust has settled at HBO, which is in the middle of a juggling act with new content and new viewership threats from streaming services like Netflix, which bested them at the Emmys last year, breaking their 18-year streak as the most nominated network. The Hollywood Reporter talked with Bloys and WarnerMedia's Bob Greenblatt about their slate for the 2019-2020 season. According to the two executives, HBO's expansion has to do with the network's programming becoming part of WarnerMedia's streaming service, set to debut later this year. The network itself also plans to blitz its viewers with more content by opening up "a second night of programming on Mondays later this year," according to the article.
"This year, we increased the volume of programming by 50 percent to 150 hours and there's not one show in 2019 that we wouldn't have done two years ago--or five years ago," said Bloys. "We were able to do more because of the resources but we have not sacrificed quality just to get the numbers up. They're all great shows and we haven't made any compromises in the kinds of shows that we're doing."
"And this is a strategy that Casey and his team have been thinking about for the past year," added Greenblatt. "There are some shows that are in the mix over the next couple of years that--I won't say departures--but they are expanding what this company has done and who it has spoken to. A show like Euphoria, for example, is in the zeitgeist of the great quality that HBO stands for but will speak to a significantly younger audience."
The two also discussed how creators like J.J. Abrams, who Greenblatt and Bloys are trying to keep with WarnerMedia amid competitive deals from other studios, and Rae's work with HBO, which includes a 2016 first look deal with the network, is still seen as important to the company.
"We have a deal with her but she can work through Warner Bros. Television or a do a doc at CNN if she wants," said Bloys. "There are deals that contemplate working across the company, not to the level of a J.J. deal or what that might look like, but we have done things like this and are continuing to do so."
Even though Westworld and Insecure are taking a back seat, Regina King will step up to the plate as the lead in HBO's Watchmen series, set to premiere this year. Also, the Zendaya-led, gritty teen drama, Euphoria, which is produced by Drake, premieres this July. These two, along with Dwayne Johnson's Ballers and Robin Thede and Rae's A Black Lady Sketch Show, are ensuring that Black creatives will be kept front and center.