At this afternoon’s summer TCA tour, HBO programming president Casey Bloys was asked about the elephant in the room, that is to further expound on what happened with director Andrea Arnold on Big Little Lies’ Season 2. Earlier this month it was reported that her creative vision across seven episodes was bigfooted by Season 1 director Jean-Marc Vallée and showrunner David E. Kelley.
Said Bloys, “There’s a lot of misinformation around that subject. To clarify a couple of things. There would not be a second season without Andrea. We’re indebted to her. She got an extraordinary performance out of the cast. As anyone who works in TV knows, the director doesn’t have final creative control. That creative control was taken from a director is a false premise.”
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“Typically a director turns in a director’s cut to the showrunner and producing team who hone the episode. That’s what happened here. The other thing I would clarify is that Jean-Marc Vallee didn’t unilaterally decide to take over the process. Andrea did director’s cuts for all seven episodes, and handed them into the showrunner and producing team.”
“Jean-Marc didn’t have directors carte blanche,” said Bloys, “Jean-Marc was involved in the scripts and he had a dinner with her beforehand.”
“For Andrea to do her director’s cut, and then when they were turned over to the producing team. When they went to Jean-Marc, he is an editor and has a team of editors he works with. He’s particular as to who he works with,” said Bloys, referring to the large amount of editors employed on Season 2.
“There wouldn’t be a season two of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold,” HBO said in a statement when the headlines broke about the helmer. “We at HBO and the producers are extremely proud of her work. As with any television project, the executive producers work collaboratively on the series and we think the final product speaks for itself.”
Deadline’s Dominic Patten reported that Arnold never was promised full creative control when she was bought on board last year, nor was she given final cut on the second season in her contract.