HBO rejigs drama team as Game of Thrones exec exits

HBO drama co-head David Levine has departed the cable channel after 10 years, leaving fellow EVP Francesca Orsi to run the department.

Levine, who oversaw such series as Westworld, True Detective and Game of Thrones, is to return to producing.

The exec recently oversaw development on The Outsider, The Nevers, Demimonde and the Game of Thrones prequel – projects which he is expected to continue work on.

Prior to HBO, Levine served as VP of development and production for Mandalay Entertainment. He also worked as a producer at Fuse Entertainment, where he co-produced USA Network’s Burn Notice pilot.

The exec joined HBO as a consultant in 2009, and was named director of HBO Entertainment that year before being promoted to VP in 2011.

Both Levine and Orsi were promoted to SVPs in 2014 and to EVP and co-heads of drama series in 2016.

Orsi has overseen such drama as Big Little Lies, Vinyl, The Leftovers and Boardwalk Empire. She first joined HBO in 2003 as an exec assistant to the head of drama, before rising through the ranks to EVP alongside Levine.

The exec courted controversy last year for comments made at a panel at Keshet’s INTV conference in Jerusalem, where the exec expounded on the cable channel’s difficult situation when limited series Big Little Lies was brought back for a second series.

“From a budget standpoint going into season two of Big Little Lies without any options in place we’ve been, um, short of raped,” she said at the time.

Orsi later apologised for the comments, stating she was “embarrassed” by her “poor choice of words”.

Deadline first reported the news of Levine’s exit.