HBO Exec Says Network Budget Being ‘Raped’ by Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies

One HBO executive is getting candid about the hits the network’s budget is set to take in the coming year. Speaking on a panel in Jerusalem, HBO drama chief Francesca Orsi said that “from a budget standpoint going into season two Big Little Lies without any options in place we’ve been … um … short raped.” Since HBO didn’t plan for a second season, reports have said that stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were able to negotiate significant raises based on competing salaries at rival networks (particularly Witherspoon’s big paychecks at Apple), as have the rest the women in the cast. HBO programming president Casey Bloys added, “As a show goes on they get more expensive and as shows get more ambitious they will get more expensive. More money doesn’t always equal better but in some cases the scope ideas do require it.”

The execs also noted that HBO is facing a budget “conundrum” with Game Thrones, if it decides to green-light any the five planned spinfs. “If we do take f on one these Game Thrones spinfs, where do we start? We can’t obviously start with the budget season eight but would it be a Game Thrones season three budget?” Orsi said. Still, Bloys noted that it would be “corporate malfeasance” not to extend the franchise. Heading into the original series’ final half (which has reportedly ballooned to over $15 million per episode), both execs say to prepare yourselves for plenty bloodshed. Per Deadline, Orsi and Bloys said they attended the “sweat-drenched” table read in Northern Ireland for the final episodes, and vaguely teased that “many” the characters will die.

Update, 3 p.m. ET: Orsi has issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter walking back her use the word “raped.” “Obviously, I am embarrassed by my poor choice words. We are extremely proud Big Little Lies and excited for the second season,” she says. She also confirmed to THR that the BLL cast had to sign new deals to return.