Not a Blog

Rest in Peace, Roy

October 17, 2017 at 6:30 pm
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The world became a little poorer this week. Roy Dotrice has died. He was ninety-four.

Roy first took up acting in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II, and went on to become one of the giants of British stage and screen, decorated by the Queen. He set a record for his one-man play BRIEF LIVES, and performed the key role of Mozart’s father in the film of AMADEUS, among a hundred other credits. He was a supremely gifted actor.

He was also my friend. He lived in the United Kingdom and I lived in New Mexico, so we did not see each other often, but whenever we did get together, it was a delight. I will always treasure the memory of the dinner I shared with Roy and his wife Kay (who passed away a few years ago) at his club, the Garrick, a centuries-old haunt of the legends of the British stage. That was a truly amazing evening. The last time I saw Roy was in Los Angeles, however, at the party his daughter threw him on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

Many of the news stories about Roy’s death identified him as a GAME OF THRONES cast member. He was that, of course. He played the pyromancer Hallyne in two episodes during our second season… and, as with everything he did, he played him wonderfully.

Truth be told, Roy might have had a much larger role in the series. When we first cast the show, he was our choice to play Grand Maester Pycelle, and I have no doubt that he would have been magnificent in that role. Sadly, health problems forced him to bow out. Julian Glover stepped up and performed admirably in his stead, but sometimes I still wonder at what might have been.

Roy’s association with GAME OF THRONES runs far deeper than the television series. He was also the reader of the audiobooks of all five volumes of the series… though calling him a “reader” does not truly reflect his work. Roy performed those books. He gave every character his (or her) own distinctive voice, despite the fact that there were hundreds of them. So many, in fact, that the Guinness Book of World Records recognized him for voicing the most characters in an audibook for his work on A GAME OF THRONES, a record he still holds today (though actually I suspect he broke it himself for his readings of the later books).

I loved what Roy did on the audiobooks. He did not just read my words aloud, he brought them to life, in a way few actors could. And the fans agreed. Roy did the audiobooks for A GAME OF THRONES, A CLASH OF KINGS, and A STORM OF SWORDS, to great acclaim. When it was time to record A FEAST FOR CROWS, however, he was unavailable. Off doing a play in Birmingham, I was told. So my publishers used another reader. But the fans were having none of it. After the audiobook of FEAST was released, Random House received so many complaints that they had no choice but to go back and re-record the book with Roy, and release a second version. So of course when it was time to tape A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, there was never any question as to who would read it.

With Roy gone, I have no idea who will can possibly get to do the audiobooks for THE WINDS OF WINTER and A DREAM OF SPRING. But whoever it is, they will have a hard, hard act to follow.

For all the great work he did on A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, my own memories of Roy Dotrice go back earlier, to the three years we worked together on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST for CBS. Great memories, for me; that was a wonderful show, and a joy to work on. We had an amazing team of writers, and of course a terrific cast, with the likes of Jay Acovone, Linda Hamilton, Jo Anderson, the incredible Ron Perlman… and Roy, of course, as Father. It was an honor and a privilege to write for him.

Those years on B&B meant a lot to Roy as well. Just last month, he posted a farewell messages to all the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST fans around the world. You can find it on YouTube:

Such a fine actor. Such a sweet man.

Everyone who knew him is sad today.

Current Mood: sad sad

And Then There Were Five…

September 20, 2017 at 11:39 am
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… GAME OF THRONES successor shows, that is.

Truth be told, we’ve had five scripts in various stages of development for months. Which I believe I mentioned…

But now at last all the deals are signed, and it can be told. BRYAN COGMAN has come on board to pen the fifth of the successor shows. James Hibberd broke the news on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

http://ew.com/tv/2017/09/20/game-thrones-bryan-cogman-5th-prequel/

Bryan Cogman should need no introduction for any GAME OF THRONES fan. He’s been part of the show since the beginning… since before the beginning, actually, since he was first hired as assistant to David Benioff and D.B Weiss way before the series got on the air, before even the pilot had been filmed. From those humble beginnings, he advanced to staff writer, to story editor, to co-producer and producer and supervising producer. Less formally, he has also been GOT’s “Keeper of the Lore,” the guy who knew the canon better than anyone (except me, though sometimes I am not even sure of that). He’s written more episodes of GAME OF THRONES than anyone but Dan & David… including some of our very best ones. If D&D have been the kings of Westeros for these past seven seasons, Bryan Cogman has surely been the Prince of Dragonstone.

I’d love to tell you more about the series Bryan will be working on… but we haven’t done that for the other four successor shows, so we shouldn’t for this one either. All in good time.

I can say that, like the other pilots, it will be a prequel rather than sequel, a successor rather than a spinoff. Bryan’s series will be an adaptation, and one that will thrill most fans of the books, I think, set during a very exciting period of Westerosi history. And I’ll be working with him every step of the way; we’re going to be co-creating the show.

Meanwhile, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, Max Borenstein, and Carly Wray are all at work on the other four successor shows. I’ve been working with them as well (some more closely than others), and I’m excited by some of the ideas they’re coming up with. HBO should have a wealth of material to choose from. (And that’s not even counting the four weird-ass series concepts I’ve come up on my own, just for the hell of it. There are eight million stories in the naked city, and maybe ten times as many in Westeros and the lands beyond the narrow seas).

You should not expect to see all five shows, though, at least not immediately.. much as I might love the idea, HBO is not about to become the GAME OF THRONES network… but we could possibly see two or even three make it to the pilot stage, with one series emerging on air in 2019 or 2020… and the others maybe later, if they come out as well as we all hope. Then again, maybe… but I should not speculate, you folks get WAY too excited. Truth is, no one knows. Least of all me.

For now, suffice it to say that Bryan Cogman has signed on, and we’re thrilled.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Just Sayin’

August 23, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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Oh, about those successor shows…

‘Nuff said.

Current Mood: mischievous mischievous

The Swords Are Drawn

July 22, 2017 at 4:29 pm
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For all you fans of sword ‘n sorcery, and/ or my own ‘fake histories,’ the new anthology from Gardner Dozois, THE BOOK OF SWORDS, has been scheduled for release on October 10, and is now available for pre-order from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Book-Swords-Gardner-Dozois/dp/0399593764 and many other online booksellers. I imagine your favorite local bookseller is taking orders too.

This is NOT one I co-edited with Gargy (people keep getting that wrong), so I haven’t read any of the other stories yet, but it looks to have a helluva lineup, with originals by Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Scott Lynch, C.J. Cherryh, Robin Hobb, Ken Liu, Cecelia Holland, Walter Jon Williams, and many more. And of course it also includes “Sons of the Dragon,” a chronicle of the reigns of Aegon the Conquerer’s two sons, Aenys I Targaryen and Maegor the Cruel, for those who cannot get enough of my entirely fake histories of Westeros. That one has never been published before in any form, though I did read it at a couple of cons.

Speaking of fake history… regulars here may recall our plan to assemble an entire book of my fake histories of the Targaryen kings, a volume we called (in jest) the GRRMarillion or (more seriously) FIRE AND BLOOD. We have so much material that it’s been decided to publish the book in two volumes. The first of those will cover the history of Westeros from Aegon’s Conquest up to and through the regency of the boy king Aegon III (the Dragonbane). That one is largely written, and will include (for the first time) a complete detailed history of the Targaryen civil war, the Dance of the Dragons. My stories in DANGEROUS WOMEN (“The Princess and the Queen”) and ROGUES (“The Rogue Prince”) were abridged versions of the same histories.

No publication date has been set yet, but it’s likely that we will get the first volume of FIRE AND BLOOD out in late 2018 or early 2019. The second volume, which will carry the history from Aegon III up to Robert’s Rebellion, is largely unwritten, so that one will be a few more years in coming.

And, yes, I know you all want to know about THE WINDS OF WINTER too. I’ve seen some truly weird reports about WOW on the internet of late, by ‘journalists’ who make their stories up out of whole cloth. I don’t know which story is more absurd, the one that says the book is finished and I’ve been sitting on it for some nefarious reason, or the one that says I have no pages. Both ‘reports’ are equally false and equally moronic. I am still working on it, I am still months away (how many? good question), I still have good days and bad days, and that’s all I care to say. Whether WINDS or the first volume of FIRE AND BLOOD will be the first to hit the bookstores is hard to say at this juncture, but I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018… and who knows, maybe two. A boy can dream…

Meanwhile, you’ll have Gardner’s anthology to fill the time. Keep your swords sharp!

Current Mood: quixotic quixotic

Dothraki Conquer British Museum!!

July 17, 2017 at 12:50 pm
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Well, okay, they are really the Scythians:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/15/british-museum-lures-game-thrones-fans-exhibition-little-known/

As Khal Drogo would say:

Current Mood: giggly giggly

A New Season

July 17, 2017 at 11:01 am
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So the seventh season of GAME OF THRONES is underway. I hope everyone out there enjoyed last night’s premiere episode.

Here in Santa Fe, we had an exciting night at the Jean Cocteau Cinema. Maybe a little too exciting… fans began lining up well before noon, and at the end we had to turn a hundred people away. Times like this make me wish I had a larger theatre. Those who did get in seemed to enjoy the show, though, and those who didn’t get in got our special GOT popsicles. We had some nice costumes turn up too, along with barbarians on horses. (I’ll post some pix when they send some).

Seven seasons… that’s still hard to believe. Where have the years gone? It seems like only yesterday we were off in Morocco filming the pilot.

One more season to go for GOT… but with five (5!) potential pilots in development, it seems likely that there will be one or more successor shows along eventually. I’d love to tell you all about them, but then I’d have to kill you. They’re all prequels, though, I let that slip already, and several of them are….

Current Mood: busy busy

Season 7 is (Almost) Here

June 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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HBO’s latest trailer for season 7 of GAME OF THRONES is here.

And for those in New Mexico, we’ll be screening a season 6 marathon at the Jean Cocteau before the season 7 premiere. Check the JCC website for dates and details. Admission is FREE.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

About Those Spinoffs…

May 14, 2017 at 6:01 pm
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So while I was on the road out California way, the story broke about the four GAME OF THRONES spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.

Yes, it’s true. More or less. Though, as is all too common these days, various distortions and misapprehensions have crept into some of the reports along the way. And television being the fast-moving business that it is, there have already been some further developments.

For what it’s worth, I don’t especially like the term “spinoff,” and I don’t think it really applies to these new projects. What we’re talking about are new stories set in the “secondary universe” (to borrow Tolkien’s term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.

None of these new shows will be ‘spinning off’ from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than ‘spinoff’ or ‘prequel,’ however, I prefer the term ‘successor show.’ That’s what I’ve been calling them.

Yes, I am involved, and have been for months. I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series. (One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not). In the months that followed, other writers were brought in and pitched other ideas. Ultimately HBO decided to go ahead with four separate developments, to be written by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray.

It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That’s not quite right. I’ve actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we’ve spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire… when we weren’t drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I’ve been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.

And there’s more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He’s a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain… but I do think it’s very unlikely that we’ll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four — now five — pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. (If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf).

The one goal that EVERYONE involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as GAME OF THRONES itself. No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate.

I can’t tell you what the shows will be about (well, I could, but I won’t), but I will tell you a couple of things they WON’T be. Which will disappoint some of you, sure, but better to do that now than later, I think.

We’re not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I’d love that, and so would many of you. But I’ve only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don’t want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I’ve finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we’ll do a tv show about them… but that day is still a long ways off.

We’re not doing Robert’s Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there’s a petition… but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert’s Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That’s not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.

More than that, I will not say. Feel free to makes your guesses, if you like… but I am not going to be confirming or denying anything, so don’t expect replies.

And yes, before someone asks, I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it’s done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that’s the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can’t tell you about yet… it’s a good thing I love my work.

Home Again

May 13, 2017 at 2:08 pm
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Got home from nigh on two weeks in California on Thursday night.

It was a great trip, but damn, I’m tired. No rest for the wicked, however. I don’t check email when I travel, so it does tend to pile up and up and up and up. So now I am digging as fast as I can, but there’s lots going on here as well. M-M-Max Headroom is in town all week.

Had a great time on the Queen Mary with the Horror Writers. If you’ve never visited the Queen, you should. Even tied up to a wharf, she puts modern cruise ships to shame. All that wood, all that art deco. The public rooms are just gorgeous. And the good folks at HWA let me present one of their Bram Stoker Awards. Which is not, incidentally, a bust of Bram, but rather a Creepy Little House. Not to be confused with the new World Fantasy Award, which is a Creepy Little Tree.

The last time I visited the Queen, the Spruce Goose was still housed in the giant dome next door. The Goose is long gone, alas, but the dome is still there, cavernous and empty. I kept gazing out at it and thinking, “hmmmm, just think what Meow Wolf could do with that.”

After Stokercon, it was on to San Diego. Raised a few sheckles for Clarion with my conversation with Kim Stanley Robinson, which I believe should be turning up on line sometime soon. Spoke to a couple of classes at UCSD as well. The real highlight of the visit, however, was my visit to a high school class which is studying… yes… my books. I was greeted by two pretty young ladies in Kingsguard cloaks, and presented with a lovely raven drawing and a sword with a map of Westeros on it. The kids were really sharp, too. They asked better questions than half of the journalists who interview me.

Then it was back to LA and meetings, meetings, meetings. Some exciting stuff is happening. A lot of it I can’t tell you about — yet — but the trades have already spilled a few of the beans so I suppose I can acknowledge that, yes, HBO is developing a successor show to GAME OF THRONES, and yes, SyFy may be doing a series based on my novella “Nightflyers.” More on all that later. There’s lots more too, but the beans remain unspilled on that, so mum’s the word… for now.

Oh, and I had a few spare hours in Beverly Hills, so I swung by the B&N at the Grove and signed all their stock of my books. So if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for an autographed copy, get there while their supply lasts (and if you’re too late, you can meet your signed book needs via mailorder from my own Jean Cocteau).

Sometimes it is nice to get away from the desk. But it’s nice to get home as well.

How Many Seasons?

March 12, 2017 at 1:11 am
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Here we go again.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY is doing a big double-issue about GAME OF THRONES. Four gorgeous variant covers (collect them all, kids!), and pages and pages of material… including a sidebar feature about how long the series will run.

http://www.ew.com/article/2015/03/11/game-thrones-end

This discussion is nothing new, of course. I get asked similar questions every time I make a public appearance, do an interview, or walk a red carpet. My usual answer is a variant on, "I don't know how many seasons the show will run."

I don't know. No one knows.

This is Hollywood, friends. As William Goldman wrote in ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE, in Hollywood "nobody knows anything."

I do know that David & Dan have stated in interviews that they see the show winding up in seven seasons. People send me emails about that every time I say "I don't know" in response to the question, as if I were somehow unaware of what D&D have said. I'm not.

I also know that HBO wants the series to run longer than that. I have known that since the very beginning… well, actually, since the day after the second episode of season one aired, when I had lunch with one of HBO's top execs, who told me, "We want this to run ten years." I allowed that ten years sounded fine to me. I continue to hear similar sentiments from HBO every time I have meeting with them, be it in LA or New York.

And it should be pointed out that neither ten seasons or even seven is locked in. Right now, GAME OF THRONES is guaranteed only six seasons. That's all HBO has officially committed to, by contract. We can speculate about additional seasons beyond that, but that's all it is, speculation. A lot of things can happen between now and season seven, or eight, or nine, things that cannot be anticipated. Believe me, I've been there. I was on staff on an hour-long TV series that was pulled off the air and retooled as a half-hour show. I was on staff on another show that could easily have run five, six seasons… until our lead actress left, and took most of our audience with her. I had a pilot that was so hot that the network ordered six back-up scripts and all but guaranteed us a midseason slot… but without an actual production order, that meant nothing when the network underwent some big personnel changes, and new people came in.

I am not saying that any of these things will happen with GAME OF THRONES. But they could. Weird stuff happens in television, and there are sooooo many factors involved. Budgets. Actors' contracts. New shows in development. Ratings (though HBO does not weigh ratings as heavily as the broadcast networks, that does not mean they are unaware of them). Awards.

HBO usually renews their shows for one season at a time. It was very unusual, last year, when they stepped up soon after the season four debut to order both season five and season six. Bloggers and journalists can speculate as they please, but none of it will mean anything until next year, when season six begins to air. Around the time that the second episode of season six is showing, HBO will order season seven, we hope… or maybe, just maybe, they will order seasons seven AND eight. But even if they just order season seven, that doesn't mean that the show will end in seven; it could just represent a return to the original policy of committing to only one season at a time.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying what I said to begin with: no one knows.

I see that this new crop of stories also raises, once again, the notion of concluding the series with one or more feature films. And in some of these stories, once again, this idea is wrongly attributed to me. Let me state, yet again, that while I love this idea, it did NOT originate with me. It was a notion suggested to me, which I have enthusiastically endorsed… but since I was the first person to raise the possibility in public, somehow I am being seen as its father.

Sure, I love the idea. Why not? What fantasist would not love the idea of going out with an epic hundred million feature film? And the recent success of the IMAX experience shows that the audience is there for such a movie. If we build it, they will come. But will we build it? I have no bloody idea.

As we go forward, I expect I will have a voice in all these decisions. But mine will only be one voice among many, and there are all sorts of other factors that can come into play. I will say, I am incredibly fortunate in having partners like HBO, and David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Seven seasons, ten seasons, with or without one or two feature films… in the end, all that matters is that we tell a great story, with a great end.