Not a Blog

Crossovers and Cameos

March 26, 2020 at 9:57 am
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I got a message from my friend Jonah Nolan last week.  Jonah is one of the creators and showrunners of HBO’s WESTWORLD, along with his wife Lisa Joy, and he told me to be sure to catch Sunday’s episode, there might be something that would amuse me.

Truth be told, I would have been watching in any case.   WESTWORLD is a terrific show, and I’ve been watching it since the beginning.   In any case, I was indeed watching, and I was indeed amused when we came on the cameo of The Three Ds: David Benioff, Dan Weiss, and Drogon.   I thought it was a fun moment, and it made me smile.

Subsequently, of course, the internet has blown up over the cameo, as the internet is wont to do.  Some people loved the cameo, some hated it, and everybody, it seems to me, is making way too much of it.   Hey, folks, c’mon.   It was just a bit of fun.   A sort of Easter Egg.  You all like Easter Eggs in your video games, don’t you?  If you blinked, you could have missed it… kind of like the appearance of Yul Brynner’s “man in black” robot from the original WESTWORLD movie that appeared first season.   I have been known to do that sort of thing myself.  Sharp-eyed readers of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE long ago noticed the appearance of the Three Stooges in the first novel, and my subsequent mentions of how giants devoured Triarch Belicho and a knight wearing Dallas Cowboys heraldry.   And if you missed those… as 98% of the readers did… that’s fine, they were just a tip o’ the hat.   I also have houses named after the great fantasists Jack Vance, Roger Zelazny, and Robert Jordan, for what it’s worth.   More tips o’ my hat.   (I wear a lot of hats).

I’ve done my own cameos over the years as well.   You can catch a glimpse of me (young, dark-haired me) in two different episodes of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  The first one you’d need to be blind to miss; the second one you’ll miss if you blink.   More recently, I played a zombie version of myself in Z NATION (still signing books), and had my head bitten off by a shark in SHARKNADO 3 (though they cut all my lines, pfui).  I also filmed a GAME OF THRONES cameo in the pilot, as a guest at Dany’s wedding to Khal Drogo.  They gave me an enormous hat and really big balls, which might have been some sort of commentary.

But  that was when Dany was being played by Tamzin Merchant.   When we recast, the whole wedding had to be reshot and I wound up on the cutting room floor.   A little later, I wanted to be a severed head on the walls of the Red Keep next to Ned Stark (and David & Dan, ideally), but our budget was not so robust first season, and those severed heads are damned expensive.   I also campaigned to die horribly at the Red Wedding, which seemed only fair since I was responsible for it, but it was felt that my presence in that powerful, wrenching, bloody scene might have taken the viewers out of the moment.   Fair enough.   And not wrong.

One thing led to another and I never did appear in a cameo in GOT, but that’s cool.   I’m a writer, not an actor… or even an extra.  And standing around in costume for all those hours in Morocco while we filmed Dany & Drogo’s nuptials gave me a helluva backache.  (Ian McNeice, our original Illyrio Mopatis, gave me some great advice afterwards: when filming a long sequence like a feast or a wedding, make sure you have a comfortable seat).

Had I been in Los Angeles at the time of the filming, I might well have been part of that WESTWORLD cameo as well.   Jonah and Lisa  have also stated that the whole thing was my idea.

Which is true.   Kinda sorta.   No, I had no idea this particular moment was coming until I caught it on HBO… but back during WESTWORLD’s season one, I did suggest to Jonah that, seeing as how the original WESTWORLD film featured a Medieval World, the TV version could easily have a Westeros World.   I never wanted a full crossover, never thought that WESTWORLD’s hosts should adventure in Westeros World as they have in Samurai World and War World… but a brief scene or two could have been fun, and would have been in keeping with the Delos concept.   And, hey, I even suggested that they could bring back actors from GOT, characters we had killed.   The hosts die almost weekly, after all.   The fans might have gotten a kick out of catching a brief glimpse of Richard Madden, Sibel Kekilli, Esme Bianco, Ron Donachie, or Mark Addy again… and I suspect the actors would have been game as well.   But it was not to be.

Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy mentioned that I worked in television back in the 80s, when crossovers between shows were more common.   That’s true.  Philip DeGuere, the showrunner on TWILIGHT ZONE version 2, who gave me my first job in Hollywood, was also the creator of a show called SIMON & SIMON, and like to tell how his show was struggling in the ratings until they did a crossover with MAGNUM P.I., after which ratings for the Simon Boys went through the roof and he had a hit.   We actually tried to do the same thing with TWILIGHT ZONE, and had several meetings with the writers and producers of MIKE HAMMER, the series that followed us on Friday nights.   Now THAT would have been a crossover, Mike Hammer in the Twilight Zone, like some surreal meeting of Mickey Spillane and Rod Serling.   Not only that, but Phil told me I could write the script, and I had just the story too… I wanted to buy the rights to Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” and adapt that.   Alas, alack, we could never get around the insistence of the Mike Hammer guys that the whole thing end up being just a dream, so it never happened.   A pity.   That was a script I would have loved to write.

As for the WESTWORLD  cameo… y’know, Robbie the Robot had a long career in film and television after FORBIDDEN PLANET.   Why would we want to begrudge Drogon the same?

Current Mood: amused amused

Double Butter, Please

October 6, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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I am tickled to report that GAME OF THRONES has taken another award.

This time it’s the MTV Golden Popcorn Award.

Here’s the list of this year’s winners.

http://www.mtv.com/news/3128177/2019-mtv-movie-tv-awards-winners-list/

The trophy just arrived, and it is certainly eye-catching.  (And heavy!)

I usually take butter (real butter please, not “golden flavor”) on my popcorn, but gold makes for a nice substitute.

Thank you, all.

I want my MTV.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Emmy Times Four

October 2, 2019 at 10:01 pm
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I’m just back from ten days in LA, and the Emmy Awards… where GAME OF THRONES once again won the Big One as the Best Drama.  It’s the fourth win for GOT… and, along with Peter Dinklage’s fourth victory as Best Supporting Actor in a drama, and all the trophies our amazing crew snagged the previous weekend at the Creative Arts awards, helped HBO once again take home more Emmys than any other network, channel, or streaming service.

Of course, we lost a few as well.   Alfie Allen and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau were also finalists in Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Peter.   GAME OF THRONES had three directors nominated (David Nutter, David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, and Miguel Sapochnik), David & Dan were up again for writing, and  we had no fewer than FOUR finalists in Best Supporting Actress in a drama (Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, and Gwendoline Christine, all of them superb), but as often happens when a show has more than one nominee in a category, they ended up splitting the GOT vote.  Kit Harrington was nominated as Best Actor in a leading role, and Emilia Clarke as Best Actress, but the Emmys went to others.   The Emmys are nothing if not competitive, and there were some wonderful performances last year… from a whole host of shows.

But it IS a honor just to be nominated, especially now, in this day and age of peak television… a sentiment all of our finalists share.   They can all be proud of the work they did, and of the recognition they received from the members of the Academy.

After eight seasons, GAME OF THRONES leaves the air with more Emmys than any other primetime series, comedy or drama, in the entire history of television.   Not too shabby, I’d say.   I am very pleased to have been a part of setting that record.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, though… it was wonderful to share the moment with all the friends I’ve made during our run, but there was a bittersweet feel to the occasion as well, knowing that this would be the last time all of us would be together.   I could not help but think back to my days on TWILIGHT ZONE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in the 80s.  I still see some of the writers and actors I met on those shows from time to time, but others I have lost track of entirely.   That’s the way it goes in television and film.  Will I ever again have the privilege of working with some of these incredible talents who helped bring my books to life?  One never knows…

One thing I do know.   I’m not done with Westeros, and HBO isn’t either.   I have WINDS OF WINTER to finish… and A DREAM OF SPRING… and more Dunk & Egg stories… and the second volume of Archmaester Gyldayn’s history.   And we hope to have some exciting news about the successor shows soon as well.

Stay tuned.

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Coming to the Opera House

September 7, 2019 at 6:00 pm
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Coming to Santa Fe’s world famous opera house on September 30:

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Tickets are still available… but they don’t be for long.

See you there!

Current Mood: excited excited

HBO, GOT Smash Records

July 16, 2019 at 2:55 pm
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The nominations for the Primetime Emmy Awards were announced this morning in Hollywood, and HBO and GAME OF THRONES both set new records.  GOT collected 32 nominations, a new record for the number of nominations for one show in a single year.. and by doing so, extended its previous record for the most nominations ever earned by one series, drama or comedy.  And HBO racked up a total of 137 nominations, 20 more than second-place finisher Netflix who came in with 117.

GOT is a finalist in the Best Drama category, and also earned nominations for directing (three finalists out of five), writing, and acting, among many many others.   Of special note is the Best Supporting Actress Drama category, where four of the six finalists are from GAME OF THRONES:  Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, Maisie Williams, and Sophie Turner.   A pretty spectacular showing for our amazing cast.

You can read the full list of nominations here:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/entertainment/game-of-thrones-emmy-nominations/index.html

https://www.vox.com/2019/7/16/20696364/emmy-nominations-2019-full-list-nominees

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/2019-emmy-nominations-list-see-all-the-nominations-1221226

My congratulations to David Benioff, Dan Weiss, our producers, directors, and all the rest of our amazing cast and crew… those who were nominated and those who were overlooked alike, they all have reason to be proud.   They came together to create the most popular television show in the world, and the most acclaimed, nominated, and awarded series in the entire history of television.   And they did with a fantasy, a genre that previously had gotten very little respect.   GAME OF THRONES changed television, and let us hope that all the fantasy shows that follow — some GOT prequels, many not — will take the torch we lit and carry it proudly.

This year’s winner will be announced in LA on September 22.

 

 

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Shae and Sibel

June 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm
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Never judge a book by its cover, or an actor by the character he or she portrays.

Most of you only know Sibel Kekilli for her portrayal of Shae in HBO’s GAME OF THRONES.   In her native Germany, of course, Sibel is recognized for a wide variety of other roles, including a long stint on the popular police procedural TATORT, the German LAW & ORDER.  She is also a two-time winner of the Lola Award (the German Oscar) for Best Actress for her starring roles in WHEN WE LEAVE and HEAD-ON.

Sibel is more than just a gifted actress, however.   She is a kind and gentle and compassionate person as well, one that I am proud to know… and she is a woman of rare courage.  In these dark and highly politicized times, when the safest course for any public figure is silence and smiles, Sibel has never hesitated to speak her mind, giving of her time, her money, and her fame to help others.   Every time she speaks up, she subjects herself to another flood of abuse, slurs, death threats, and the like… but she persists, nonetheless.

Sibel Kekilli is a true hero.

She has worked for years for Terre des Femmes, fighting violence against women all around the world.

Terre des Femmes

Now Sibel has a new venture: working with PAPATYA to rescue girls (from the ages of 13 to 21) threatened with forced child marriages and abductions.  Sibel has recently used her own funds to buy computers for the girls.   She’s also lent her support to an on-line counseling site, SIBEL ( named after her character from HEAD-ON) to offer advice and help to those who need it.

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She has my admiration and support.  I hope she has yours as well.

 

Current Mood: determined determined

An Ending

May 20, 2019 at 8:41 pm
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The last night, the last show.   After eight epic seasons, HBO’s GAME OF THRONES series has come to an end.

It is hard to believe it is over, if truth be told.   The years have gone past in the blink of an eye.  Can it really have been more than a decade since my manager Vince Gerardis set up a meeting at the Palm in LA, and I sat down for the first time with David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for a lunch that lasted well past dinner?  I asked them if they knew who Jon Snow’s mother was.   Fortunately, they did.

That was how it started.  It ended last night.

I had no clue, that afternoon at the Palm, that I was about to embark on a journey that would change my life.   I had optioned books and stories for television and film before.  Some had even been made   There was no way to know that this one was going to be different, that this pilot would not only be shot,  but would go on to become the most successful show in the history of HBO, win a record number of Emmy Awards, become the most popular (and most pirated) show in the world, and transform a group of talented but largely unknown actors into major celebrities and stars.   Even less did I imagine that I would somehow become a celebrity as well… and if truth be told, I’m still not sure how that happened.

It has been a wild ride, to say the least.

I want to thank people, but there are so many.   There were forty-two cast members at the season eight premiere in New York City, and that wasn’t even all of them.   And the crew, though less visible than the cast, were no less important.  We had some amazing people working on this show, as all those Emmys bear witness.   David & Dan assembled a championship team.   The directors were incredible as well.   I should start naming names, but then I’d miss someone, there were so many.   But I do need to mention David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Bryan Cogman (the third head of the dragon, as I said in the recent VANITY FAIR piece about him), and of course the great team at HBO, headed by Richard Plepler.   Any other network, and GAME OF THRONES would not have been what it became.  Most other networks, this series never gets made at all.

I could go on and on… and have, as I’ve been writing this post in my head… but there’s really too much to say.   Parting is such sweet sorrow, the Bard wrote.  In the weeks and months to come, I may post about some of my favorite moments from the making of this show… now and again, when I am feeling nostalgic… but just now, there are so many memories, and no time to do them all justice.

Let me say this much — last night was an ending, but it was also a beginning.   Nobody is retiring any time soon.   David and Dan are going on to STAR WARS and other projects beyond that.   Amazon scooped up Bryan Cogman, and put him to work on developing shows of his own, as well as helping out on their big Tolkien project.   Our brilliant cast has scattered to the four winds, but you’ll be seeing a lot of them in the years to come, in all manner of television shows and movies.   Our directors are keeping busy as well.   I suspect that you have not seen the last of Westeros on your television sets either, but I guess that all depends on how some of these successor shows turn out.

And me?  I’m still here, and I’m still busy.    As a producer, I’ve got five shows in development at HBO (some having nothing whatsoever to do with the world of Westeros), two at Hulu, one on the History Channel.   I’m involved with a number of feature projects, some based upon my own stories and books, some on material created by others.   There are these short films I am hoping to make, adaptations of classic stories by one of the most brilliant, quirky, and original writers our genre has ever produced.   I’ve consulted on a video game out of Japan.   And then there’s Meow Wolf…

And I’m writing.   Winter is coming, I told you, long ago… and so it is.   THE WINDS OF WINTER is very late, I know, I know, but it will be done.  I won’t say when, I’ve tried that before, only to burn you all and jinx myself… but I will finish it, and then will come A DREAM OF SPRING.

How will it all end? I hear people asking.   The same ending as the show?  Different?

Well… yes.  And no.  And yes.   And no.   And yes.   And no.   And yes.

I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget.   They had six hours for this final season.   I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.   And of course the butterfly effect will be at work as well; those of you who follow this Not A Blog will know that I’ve been talking about that since season one.   There are characters who never made it onto the screen at all, and others who died in the show but still live in the books… so if nothing else, the readers will learn what happened to Jeyne Poole, Lady Stoneheart, Penny and her pig, Skahaz Shavepate, Arianne Martell, Darkstar, Victarion Greyjoy, Ser Garlan the Gallant, Aegon VI, and a myriad of other characters both great and small that viewers of the show never had the chance to meet.   And yes, there will be unicorns… of a sort…

Book or show, which will be the “real” ending?   It’s a silly question.   How many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?

How about this?  I’ll write it.   You read it.  Then everyone can make up their own mind, and argue about it on the internet.

 

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

The Regular-Sized Council Meets

April 14, 2019 at 9:33 am
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Current Mood: mischievous mischievous

Cookies Are Coming

April 10, 2019 at 9:16 am
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When winter comes, what’s better than a glass of milk and some nice cookies?

GAME OF THRONES Oreos now on sale at your local supermarket.

No, really.

It is NOT April 1.

Current Mood: amused amused

Season Eight Approaches

March 7, 2019 at 9:16 pm
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The eighth and final season of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES will be upon us in April.

HBO has just released a new trailer.

Enjoy.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful