The iron throne is about to be empty. HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo, a 33-year veteran of the pay cable giant, is stepping down after after a nearly nine-year run overseeing the network’s entertainment programming, Variety reports. The industry trade says Lombardo was not pushed out, but the news comes in the wake of a tough few years for HBO, which has seen its dominance in the premium series front threatened by the rise of Netflix and Amazon, as well as by basic cable challengers such as AMC and FX. Worse, as we noted last month, HBO has been suffering through a drama recession of sorts in the years since Game of Thrones premiered. The recent departure of Vinyl showrunner Terence Winter was the latest manifestation of the network’s woes, which also include the miscalculation that was True Detective season two and the departure of former head of drama Michael Ellenberg in January. In addition, while The Leftovers ultimately won over critics, its modest ratings seem to have forced HBO to wrap the show after just three seasons. Whatever the reason for Lombardo’s sudden departure, the exec leaves behind an impressive track record, helping develop the likes of The Newsroom, Veep, Silicon Valley, Girls, Last Week Tonight, and Boardwalk Empire. Per Variety, Lombardo is expected to work out a production deal with HBO after leaving the network. That may sound like a consolation prize, but consider this fun fact: Former HBO programming chief Carolyn Strauss got a big development deal when she exited HBO — a deal that led to her name being on a little show called Game of Thrones. Reps for HBO did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Variety says it’s not clear yet how the network will fill Lombardo’s position.
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