HBO has decided not to go forward with the second season of VINYL, despite the network having announced its renewal shortly after the first episode premiered. The series starred Bobby Cannavale as a record executive in the 1970s trying to resurrect his label American Century.
Despite the show’s impressive pedigree – the series was created by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, and Boardwalk Empire’s Terence Winter – Vinyl failed to capture the hearts and minds of audiences or critics, and with an estimated $100 million dumped into its first season, the lukewarm response seemed all the more devastating for HBO. Initially, the plan was to replace showrunner Winter, who cited creative differences as his reason for stepping side, with Scott Z. Burns for season two. It now appears, however, that those plans have been scrapped.
“After careful consideration, we have decided not to proceed with a second season of Vinyl,” HBO said. “Obviously, this was not an easy decision. We have enormous respect for the creative team and cast for their hard work and passion on this project.”
It’s difficult to say which was more surprising: whether HBO ultimately decided to cancel Vinyl, or whether the network chose to renew it in the first place. Either way, it appears that newly appointed programming chief Casey Bloys – who recently stepped into the role after Michael Lombardo exited – is eager clean up the network’s slate and put his own stamp on things.
The reversal isn’t unheard of at HBO, which similarly pulled the rug out from under The Brink after initially renewing the political satire for a second season. While Game of Thrones still reigns as one of television’s hottest shows (arguably the hottest), the network that essentially ushered in the Golden Age of TV with The Sopranos has stumbled in recent years with its dramas.
The David Milch horse-racing series Luck was quickly lead back to the stable after being plagued by production issues – including the death of multiple horses on set – and the Aaron Sorkin melodrama The Newsroom fizzled shortly thereafter. The first season of True Detective blew audiences away, but the second season? Not so much. The real drama has been in the network’s starts and stops with A-list talent and high-profile projects, including two series from David Fincher – Videosyncrazy and Utopia – that are supposedly dead. Meanwhile, HBO’s competition – which now includes Netflix, Amazon and FX on top of Showtime and Starz – has continued to grow and pull premium content viewers.
HBO has a few tricks left up its sleeve, though, including the buzzed about series Westworld from Jonathan Nolan on the horizon.That said, Bloys certainly has his work cut out for him.
Josh Lyons | Managing Editor