Not a Blog

The Dragons Are Coming

October 8, 2021 at 11:55 am
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Yes, I know, most of you have already seen this.   (What can I say?  I am busy.   Juggling so many balls, so many projects, posting stuff on my Not A Blog is not my highest priority, so things may always be a little bit behind here).

For the handful who have been off the internet the past few days, however… HBO has released the first official teaser/trailer for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.  Here ’tis.

Enjoy.

(And yes, I love it too.  Ryan and Miguel and their team are kicking ass and taking names).

Current Mood: happy happy

October 4, 2021 at 10:59 pm
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Current Mood: busy busy

Comes A Swordsman

April 15, 2021 at 12:30 pm
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He is the common-born son of the steward to the Lord of Blackhaven.   He has no claim to lands or titles, all he has is his honor and his skill with sword and lance.

He is a challenger, a champion, cheered by the commons, beloved of the ladies.

He is a lover (or is he?), a seducer (or is he?), a betrayer (or is he?), a breaker of hearts and a maker of kings.

FIRE & BLOOD readers know him as Ser Criston Cole.

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON viewers will know him as FABIEN FRANKEL.

In some of his other roles, Frankel has been the son of Dennis Franz (NYPD BLUE) and the lover of Emilia Clarke (LAST CHRISTMAS).   And now he is getting tangled up with some more Targaryens.   We shall see how that goes.

Welcome to Westeros, Fabien.

And do keep that sword sharp.

 

 

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

On the Road with Roger Z

February 24, 2021 at 9:02 am
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The story broke a few days ago, and is now all over the internet: I am developing a new series for HBO, a science fiction show based on ROADMARKS, a novel by the late great Roger Zelazny.   And what do you know — the story is actually true.   Which is more than can be said about most of the stories about me that I stumble over these days, boys and girls.  (I have said it before, and will say it again, but sometimes it seems no one listens.   Do not believe everything you read).

Anyway… YES!   We had not intended to announce anything yet, to be sure.   Development is a long and uncertain process.    Thousands of shows are pitched, hundreds of pilots are written, dozens of pilots are filmed, but only a very few of them ever get greenlit to series.   There is a reason that Hollywood insiders call it “development hell.”  And what’s the point of announcing projects that might never make it to air?   That’s why HBO — like most other networks and streamers — prefers to keep these things quiet.

Even so, even so… you cannot win the lottery unless you buy a ticket, so we all keep playing.

Which brings me back to ROADMARKS.

DEADLINE was the first to break the story, but the best and most complete account appeared on the WERTZONE, here:
https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2021/02/hbo-developing-roger-zelaznys-roadmarks.html

My career in television started in 1985 when I adapted Roger Zelazny’s “The Last Defender of Camelot” for THE TWILIGHT ZONE.  It was the first script of mine ever to be filmed (starring Richard Kiley and Jenny Agutter and a stuntman whose nose got cut off during the swordfight).  Roger was a friend, a mentor, and one of the greatest science fiction writers who ever lived.   He died in 1995, but his work will live for so long as people read SF and fantasy. It was an honor to be able to bring one of his stories to television.   And now I am hoping we will be able to do it again.

I pitched ROADMARKS to HBO last year — along with four other SF and fantasy works (by various other writers) that I thought had the makings of great shows.   They all had (and have) lots of potential, but ROADMARKS was the one they responded to.  A great choice, I think.   ROADMARKS is not as well as known as some of Roger’s other work, like the Amber series or LORD OF LIGHT (one of the best SF novels ever written, imnsho), but at the core of it is a simply marvelous concept: the Road that extends through all of history and even into alternate timelines, ever growing, ever changing, a road that will take you anywhere if you know how to find it.  Roger’s own title for the novel was LAST EXIT TO BABYLON, which gives you a hint of the flavor of the book.   In Red Dorakeen, he gave us a fascinating protagonist as well, and of course there’s also Leaves and Flowers, and the Black Decade, and some wild supporting characters and bad guys.    Honestly, the concept is as big as Amber and could easily have sustained a whole series of books, though Roger only penned the one.  It’s our hope that it can also sustain a dozen great seasons on HBO.

But that’s a way down the… ahem… road.   Right now we just have a pilot order.

We found a great writer, though.  Her name is Kalinda Vazquez.   I first met her five or six years back, when we worked together on a different project, trying to turn my werewolf novella “The Skin Trade” into a series for Cinemax.   That was going great for a time, till it blew up for various complex legal reasons that annoy me to this day.   (See what I mean about development hell?)  Maybe one day we can return to it.  Afterwards, Kalinda went on to write for all sorts of other shows, including STAR TREK and THE WALKING DEAD, while I… well, most of you know what I have been doing.   But I am looking forward to working with her again.   Although, to be honest, it is Kalinda who will be doing most of the work from this point on.   I am only an executive producer.   Kalinda will be writing the pilot, and if indeed we get a series order, she will be the showrunner, presiding over the writer’s room and in charge of the whole shebang.    She had a great take on Willie and Randi back then, and I think she’ll do right by Red and the Road as well.

Of course, it will be a year or two before a ROADMARKS show could possibly get on the air.

While you are waiting, let me suggest you read ROADMARKS, the novel.   And then NINE PRINCES IN AMBER.   LORD OF LIGHT.   DOORWAYS IN THE SAND.   CREATURES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS.   THIS IMMORTAL.   THE DREAM MASTER.   Or any of the marvelous haunting evocative short stories.   There was only one Roger Zelazny.

 

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

The Wedding Guest

October 26, 2020 at 8:26 am
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Here’s another peek at the past, and the original pilot for GAME OF THRONES.

We shot the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo in Morocco.   Ian McNeice played Illyrio Mopatis, a magister of Pentos, and I played one of the wedding guests, presumably another magister.

Both of us, alas, were left on the cutting room floor when Dany was recast and the wedding was reshot.   Ian McNeice was terrific as Illyrio, by the way, but a scheduling conflict made him unavailable for the reshoot.

I never did find time to do another cameo, but I suspect the show was better for it.

If you really want to see me do a cameo, I did two for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in the 80s, and more recently had my brilliant turns in SHARKNADO 3 and Z NATION.  I made a swell zombie…

Current Mood: silly silly

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

A Tip o’ the Crown

November 10, 2019 at 9:41 am
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You cannot build a house all alone.   Especially not a HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

HBO recently announced a full-season ten-episode pickup for HOUSE, the first GAME OF THRONES successor show to go to series.   The show is based on material from my imaginary history, FIRE & BLOOD.  Ryan Condal wrote the pilot script and the series bible, and will serve as showrunner for the series, together with director Miguel Sapochnik.

Even Aegon the Dragon couldn’t conquer the Seven Kingdoms all by himself, however.   He needed the help of his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya.  Ryan and I had some great assistance as well, and I wanted to give a tip of the crown to three talented and hard-working young writers who helped to bring this one home.   WES TOOKE was Ryan’s right hand man on COLONY, where he served as an executive producer and wrote thirteen episodes.  CLAIRE KIECHEL is a young playwright out of New York who came to HOUSE OF THE DRAGON after stints on Netflix’s THE OA and HBO’s new WATCHMEN series.  TI MIKKEL came to the show from my own Fevre River Packet Company, where she’s served as a writer’s assistant, helped in the development of a series of short films I hope to produce, and is spearheading the development of TUF VOYAGING as a television series… when she’s not working on her own novel.

Those unfamiliar with the way television works may wonder… if Ryan Condal wrote the pilot and the bible, what did Wes and Claire and Ti do?  The answer is: a lot.  They sat with Ryan every day in a writer’s room at HBO for months, talking story, going over drafts, giving notes, correcting errors (not that Ryan or I ever made any, no sir, not us), catching inconsistencies, discussing character and plot, offering ideas and suggestions, filling in gaps, breaking down the episodes to come and drawing up a roadmap for the first season and all the seasons to follow.   The HOUSE OF THE DRAGON could never have been built without the help of Ti, Claire, and Wes, three terrific young storytellers.   They have my thanks, and Ryan’s.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

The Dragons Take Wing

October 30, 2019 at 2:33 pm
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The dragons are coming… back.

Last night in Hollywood at the WarnerMedia Day, HBO made it official.    We have a green light for a GAME OF THRONES successor show… not just a pilot, but a full season order for ten episodes.   HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is the title of the new show, and needless to say it will be centered on House Targaryen, set a couple of centuries before the events of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE and based upon Archmaester Gyldayn’s imaginary history FIRE & BLOOD.

The new series will be helmed by a couple of great showrunners: RYAN CONDAL and MIGUEL SAPOCHNIK.

Miguel’s name will be well known to every GAME OF THRONES fan.   One of the hottest directors in television today, he directed five episodes for GOT, and won an Emmy and a DGA Award for his work on “Battle of the Bastards.”  Sapochnik will be directing the pilot… well, maybe it is more precise to call it “the first episode”… of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and doubtless a number of other episodes as well.   There’s no one better.

Ryan Condal is new to Westeros, but not to me.   I first met Ryan when he came to New Mexico to shoot a pilot for a fantasy western that was not picked up.  I visited his set and we became friendly.  Later Ryan created and served as showrunner for the SF series COLONY, and we had the honor of doing a premiere screening for the show at the Jean Cocteau.   He’s a terrific writer… and a fan of my books since well before we met.   He tells me that he discovered the series just after A STORM OF SWORDS was published, and “I’ve loved the books for 19 years.”   (He is also a huge fan of my Dunk & Egg stories.   In fact, that was the show he wanted to do initially, but I’m not prepared to bring Dunk & Egg to television until I’ve written quite a few more stories).  Working with Ryan on the development of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON has been a dream.

The news is all over the internet by now, of course, so I won’t rehash the basics here.   But you can find good, informed accounts on a number of websites.  Check here:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/game-thrones-prequel-house-dragon-gets-hbo-series-order-1250974

https://ew.com/tv/2019/10/30/house-of-the-dragon-thrones/

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON has been in development for several years (though the title has changed a couple of times during that process).  It was actually the first concept I pitched to HBO when we started talking about a successor show, way back in the summer of 2016.  If you’d like to know a bit more of what the show will be about… well, I can’t actually spill those beans, but you might want to pick up a copy of two anthologies I did with Gardner Dozois, DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES, and then move on to Archmaester Gyldayn’s history, FIRE & BLOOD.

(For the autograph collectors among you, signed copies of all these books are available via mail order from the bookshop at my Jean Cocteau Cinema, https://jeancocteaucinema.com/shop/ )

Ryan Condal has already done a considerable amount of writing on HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, but a lot of work remains ahead of us.   There’s a writer’s room to be assembled, episodes to be broken down and scripted, a cast and crew to be assembled, budgets and production details to be worked out.   As yet, we don’t even know where we will be shooting… though I expect we will revisit at least some of the countries David & Dan used for GAME OF THRONES (Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Croatia, Morocco, Malta, and Spain).  I expect to be involved in all of this to some extent… and, who knows, if things work out, I may even be able to script a few episodes, as I did for the first four seasons of GAME OF THRONES.

But… let me make this perfectly clear… I am not taking on any scripts until I have finished and delivered WINDS OF WINTER.  Winter is still coming, and WINDS remains my priority, as much as I’d love to write an episodes of HOUSE.

As exciting as the series order is, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the bad news.   HBO also announced that it has decided not to proceed with the other successor show we had in development, the one I kept calling THE LONG NIGHT (though it was, and remains, officially untitled), the pilot for which was shot in Northern Ireland last spring and summer.  Set thousands of years before either GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and centered on the Starks and the White Walkers, the untitled pilot was written by Jane Goldman, directed by S.J. Clarkson, and starred Naomi Watts, Miranda Richardson, and a splendid cast.   It goes without saying that I was saddened to hear the show would not be going to series.   Jane Goldman is a terrific screenwriter, and I enjoyed brainstorming with her.   I do not know why HBO decided not to go to series on this one, but I do not think it had  to do with HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.  This was never an either/or situation.  If television has room enough for multiple CSIs and CHICAGO shows… well, Westeros and Essos are a lot bigger, with thousands of years of history and enough tales and legends and characters  for a dozen shows.   Heartbreaking as it is to work for years on a pilot, to pour your blood and sweat and tears into it, and  have it come to nought, it’s not at all uncommon.   I’ve been there myself, more than once.   I know Jane and her team are feeling the disappointment just now, and they have all my sympathy… with my thanks for all their hard work, and my good wishes for whatever they do next.

 

 

 

Current Mood: excited excited

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