Not a Blog

Amazing Animation

December 31, 2023 at 8:24 am
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There is so much on television these days, in the age of streaming, it is hard to keep up.  The days when we had only three networks, and we pretty much knew what was on each of them every night of the week  are long gone.   One thing is the same, though.  It is always a joy to stumble on a show that you haven’t seen before, a great show that just blows you away, that sinks its claws into you and won’t let go.

Parris and I found one  just last week; an animated series called BLUE EYE SAMURAI.

I hardly know where to start on this one.   Once we started watching it, we could not stop.   Binged the whole thing in three nights, and I am already hungry for the second season.   They are doing some amazing things with animation these days, as series like LOVE, DEATH, AND ROBOTS have shown… and this is coming from a kid who was weaned on the classic Disney features (my favorites being PINOCCHIO and DUMBO, but really, I loved them all — the originals, please, not these “live action” rehashes).   Even so, BLUE EYE SAMURAI has the most gorgeous art that I have ever seen.  The story is terrific as well.   Set in Japan during the Edo period, it is violent, visceral, sexy (and more than a little kinky in spots), with amazing action sequences and a cast of well-developed characters, colorful and complex and real.   Flawed heroes, villains who are more than cartoons (though they are cartoons, being drawn, after all).

It reminded me of some books I read… what was the title of that series, now?   Something about a song…

Ah, never mind…

BLUE EYE SAMURAI is very much its own thing, and it is magnificent.   Even if you don’t normally watch animation, give it a try.   It’s terrific.  If you like my own stuff, I think you’ll love it.

As it happens, HBO and I have our own animated projects, set in the world of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   None of them have been greenlit yet, but I think we are getting close to taking the next step with a couple of them.   When this last round of development started a few years back, we had four ideas for animated shows, with some great talents attached.   Writers rooms and summits, outline and scripts followed in due course… but, alas, two of the original projects were subsequently shelved.

(Those of you who have read my reports in years past may recall that I prefer to say “shelved” rather than “killed,” as nothing is ever dead for good in Hollywood, and a project put on the shelf one year can be taken off the shelf a few years later).   (( I still have hopes of presenting the stories that we shelved in another form, perhaps as graphic novels)).

Work on the other two animated projects continues apace, however…and meanwhile, we have moved NINE VOYAGES, our series about the legendary voyages of the Sea Snake, over from live action to animation.   A move I support fully.   Budgetary constraints would likely have made a live action version prohibitively expensive, what with half the show taking place at sea, and the necessity of creating a different port every week, from Driftmark to Lys to the Basilisk Isles to Volantis to Qarth to… well, on and on and on.   There’s a whole world out there.  And we have a lot better chance of showing it all with animation.   So we now have three animated projects underway.

Will any of them make it to air?  happen?   No way to know.   Nothing is certain in Hollywood.   But if it does happen, with one or two or all three shows, I hope we can make them  as good as gorgeous and gripping as  BLUE EYE SAMURAI.   We will for damn sure try.

Perfect Episodes

August 29, 2023 at 8:41 am
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I have never claimed to be perfect… but if the good folks at VANITY FAIR want to say so, who I am to argue?

Of course, they are not actually saying I am perfect.  They are talking about “Blackwater,” one of the episodes I wrote for GAME OF THRONES.   (I scripted four.  And yes, “Blackwater” is my own favorite of those, although I thought “The Lion and the Rose” turned out very well too, and I have a soft spot for that one).

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2023/08/best-tv-episodes

I haven’t seen all of the other episodes on the list… but I have to say, the ones that I have watched were by and large extraordinary, so I can’t take issue with many of VANITY FAIR’s choices.   “The Suitcase” from MAD MEN, the heart-wrenching “Ozymandias” episode from BREAKING BAD… THE SOPRANOS had lots of great episodes, but “The Pine Barrens” was special, and for the entire rest of the series I kept waiting for that Russian to turn up again when we least expected… for “The Wire” they picked the episode where Stringer died, and one can’t argue with that, though Omar’s death hit me maybe a tiny bit harder… but the show was so good, it came close to perfection pretty frequently… and BLACK MIRROR is an extraordinary series in so many ways, but “San Junipero” is the episode I love to watch over and over, and tell my friends to watch…  if I had to pick one episode that was even more perfect than all the others on the list, though, it would have to be the final episode of SIX FEET UNDER.   I liked that series well enough, though I cannot say I loved it as much as I loved ROME or DEADWOOD or FARGO or a few other shows missing from the list, but that last episode was far and away the best finale in the entire history of television, and I cannot imagine how anyone could possibly do better.

Anyway… I feel very pleased and flattered to be in such great company.   No work of art is ever truly perfect, of course… but it is very gratifying to hear that maybe you achieved it, or at least came close… for some of your readers (or viewers)… once in a very great while.   There is always a next time, though… and regardless of how well (or poorly) one of my tales is received,  I always want to do better the next time I sit down in front of the computer.

 

 

 

 

A Knight and a Squire

April 14, 2023 at 7:12 am
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The news is all over the internet by now.   The announcement was made on the 12th, at Warner Media’s big press event for the rollout and rebranding of their new streamer, MAX, coming your way on May 23.  I was sworn to secrecy till then, but now that the word is out, I can go ahead and confirm it.  Yes, it’s true.  There’s another successor show on its way to you.

Dunk & Egg are coming to HBO.

The working title will be A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS: THE HEDGE KNIGHT.  Whether that will be the final title, I can’t say for sure… beyond saying that no, it won’t be called TALES OF DUNK & EGG or THE ADVENTURES OF DUNK & EGG or DUNK & EGG or anything along those lines.   I love Dunk and I love Egg, and I know that fans refer to my novellas as “the Dunk & Egg stories,” sure, but there are millions of people out there who do not know the stories and the title needs to intrigue them too.   If you don’t know the characters, DUNK & EGG sounds like a sitcom.  LAVERNE & SHIRLEY.   ABBOTT & COSTELLO.   BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD.    So, no.   We want “knight” in the title.  Knighthood and chivalry are central to the themes of these stories.

Aside from the title, what else can I tell you?

Not a lot.

HBO has given us a greenlight to film for a full season (not just a pilot), most likely of six episodes… though that is not set in stone, and won’t be until considerably later in the process.   To date I have written and published three novellas about Dunk & Egg — “The Hedge Knight,” “The Sworn Sword,” and “The Mystery Knight,” each of them initially published independently in various anthologies before being collected together in A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS.

Our premiere season will be an adaptation of the first of the three published novellas, “The Hedge Knight,” the tale of how Dunk & Egg first met during a tournament at Ashford Meadow.    The pilot script is already written, and I think it’s terrific.  It was written by Ira Parker, who is no stranger to Westeros.   He was part of Ryan Condal’s writing staff for the first season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and wrote the fourth episode of Hot D’s first season, “King of the Narrow Sea.”   That’s the one where Prince Daemon returns to King’s Landing after conquering the Stepstones, and takes Princess Rhaenyra down into the stews of Flea Bottom.   Ryan Condal is on board as well, as an Executive Producer.   So am I.

There is no date set yet for the series premiere, or even for the show to begin shooting… but the writing is well underway.  Ira has assembled a small but very talented team, and they are at it already, building on the foundations laid down last year in previous creative summits… and of course on the original novella.   The Dunk & Egg novellas are fully-fleshed narratives more like the novels of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE than the imaginary history of FIRE & BLOOD; the stories are right there on the page, and our goal is to produce faithful adaptations of those tales for the screen.

If THE HEDGE KNIGHT turns out as well as we hope it will, our hope would be to go on and adapt THE SWORN SWORD and THE MYSTERY KNIGHT as well.  That will take a few years.   Then comes the hard part.   Before we reach the end of the published stories, I will need to find time to write all the other Dunk & Egg novellas that I have planned.   There are… gulp… more of them than I had once thought.   There’s “The Village Hero” and the Winterfell story, the one with the She-Wolves, and maybe I need to write that Dornish adventure too to slip in between “The Hedge Knight” and “The Sworn Sword,” and after that there are… ah… more.   I just need to finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, and then do either A DREAM OF SPRING or volume two of FIRE & BLOOD, and slip in a new Dunk & Egg between each of those in my copious spare time… and that will keep me ahead of Ira and his merry crew… for a few more years.

Well, I will worry about that tomorrow.   Today, we’re celebrating.   Dunk & Egg are coming.

Those of you who have not yet made their acquaintance should pick up a copy of A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS from your favorite local bookshop or online bookseller.   (We have autographed copies at Beastly Books in Santa Fe).

You could check out your local comics shop as well.  All three of the Dunk & Egg novellas have been done as graphic novels, and done very well, with some great artwork by Mike S. Miller, who captured both characters perfectly.

One more thing before I close…

Way back in the summer of 2016, when HBO first started thinking about GAME OF THRONES spinoffs, I pitched them two ideas:  the Dance of the Dragons, which in due time became HOUSE OF THE DRAGON… and Dunk & Egg.   That was seven years ago.   (I can hardly believe it myself).  The lesson there is that development takes time.  I see all these stories on the net about other spinoffs being killed or abandoned… no idea where they get this stuff… and it just makes me shake my head.   The Nymeria show is still in development.  So is the Sea Snake show.   Just had a great week on that one, working with writers.   And there are others, both live action and animated.   How many will get the greenlight like Dunk & Egg?  Impossible to say.   How long will it take?   It depends.   No one knows for sure.   When I was in grade school, there was a cop show that ended every week with, “There are eight million stories in The Naked City.   This has been one of them.”   And that was only New York City.   Westeros and Essos are a lot bigger, with even more stories.   We just need time to tell them.

 

Current Mood: excited excited

The Globe of Gold

April 12, 2023 at 4:36 pm
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All of us at HBO and HOUSE OF THE DRAGON were thrilled when Hot D won this year’s Golden Globe Award as Best Dramatic Series.   I was pretty  surprised as well.   It was great to be nominated, as it was in past years when GAME OF THRONES was selected as one of the finalists by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, but GOT had never won, and I did not expect that HOUSE would either.   The competition was fierce.

But hey, I have seldom been more pleased to be wrong.

I was not able to attend the awards ceremony in Hollywood (I did attend some in past years, including the year when Ron Perlman won his Globe for his portrayal of Vincent on BEAUTY & THE BEAST).   Milly Alcock, Emma d’Arcy, and Miguel Sapochnik were on hand to accept on behalf of the show.

The Hollywood Foreign Press and HBO were kind enough to ship the Globes to those of us who were not able to attend, however, and mine has now turned up at the Water Gardens here in Santa Fe.

(I have to say, it is one impressive trophy.    Beautiful… and HEAVY.   Much heavier than any other award on my shelves, even the Emmy, which is also heftier than you might think.   You could bludgeon someone to death with a Globe very easily, and I am sure some cop shop will have that happen on an episode one of these days).

((Not that I would ever need to do that.   My house is full of swords)).

Anyway… my thanks to the Hollywood Foreign Press, to everyone who voted for us, to our fans and viewers, and of course to the astonishing cast and crew and writing staff of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, who brought the beast home at last.

Current Mood: happy happy

Here Come The Dragons

May 5, 2022 at 5:43 pm
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Are those dragons I see?

Yes indeed.

It’s May, which means the August 21 premiere of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is only a few months away.

And HBO has just released a new trailer, to give you another taste of what you’ll be seeing.

Enjoy.

Current Mood: excited excited

Things Are Hoppin’

March 10, 2022 at 10:43 am
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The Pens Behind the Swords

February 20, 2022 at 11:10 am
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HOUSE OF THE DRAGON has a great pair of showrunners in Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik.

And it has an amazing cast as well.   You’ve been reading about them for months.  Matt Smith, Emma d’Arcy, Milly Alcock, Olivia Cooke, Paddy Considine, Emily Carey, Rhys Ifans, Steve Touissant, Fabien Frankel, and more, and more.   You may not know their names now, but I think you will before the year ends.  You will hate some of them, love some of them, mourn for some of them.

There’s another group of contributors, equally important, whose names you may not know either.   But you should.  Without them , there would be no show.   If there was, it would certainly not be as good as I think HOUSE is going to be.   Here are the folks I am talking about:

Yes… it’s the writers.  

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is based on my novellas “The Princess and the Queen” and “The Rogue Prince,” and other materials from my Targaryen history FIRE & BLOOD… but FIRE & BLOOD is an imaginary history, not a traditional novel.   To turn it into a television series requires a lot more work than adapting a novel or short story.   The scriptwriters need to make history come alive.

Ryan Condal assembled a pretty amazing team to do just that.    The photograph above was taken during one of my visits to LA — the last, I think, before Covid descended on us all, and shut down my travels — when I sat down with Ryan and his writers for dinner.  It was a big loud lively dinner at a long table, but the food was great and the company was greater.   I loved talking dragons with the team, and I was impressed with the depth of their knowledge of my world, and their enthusiasm for the project.

The first season of HOUSE is now wrapped, and in large part thanks to the talents of our scribes.  So please raise your glasses and toast our writers:  Sara Hess, Gabe Fonseca, Ira Parker, Ti Mikkel, Charmaine DeGrate, Kevin Lau, and Eileen Shim.   And of course Ryan Condal himself, the ringmaster and dragon tamer.   Oh, and though they are not in the picture, I should also salute Claire Kiechel and Wes Tooke, who joined Ryan and Ti in the mini writer’s room that preceded this one, before there was even a pick up.

(And me, you ask?  No, I did not write a script for the first season of HOUSE… part of me would have loved to, but I have been kind of busy with WINDS OF WINTER, the other THRONES successor shows, various WILD CARDS books, the WILD CARDS tv pilot for Peacock and UCP, DARK WINDS for AMC, ROADMARKS for HBO, NIGHT OF THE COOTERS and a couple other really cool Howard Waldrop projects, and… well, yeah, okay, I bought a railroad, never mind.   I did co-create the series with Ryan and help give it its shape, and he and I have been in constant contact ever since).

Hollywood is a land of change, and writers are always moving around in today’s television landscape.   Some of the folks in the photo above moved on to other shows and other networks before season one of HOUSE even began to film.   Others have been with us all the way through the first season, and will be returning for season two (if indeed HBO gives us a season two, cross your fingers).   But all of them played a part.

So here’s to the writers!   Huzzah!

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

WRAPPED!

February 17, 2022 at 5:27 pm
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Exciting news out of London — I am informed that shooting has WRAPPED for the first season of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

Yes, all ten episodes.   I have seen rough cuts of a few of them, and I’m loving them.  Of course, a lot more work needs to be done.   Special effects, color timing, score, all the post production work.

But the writing, the directing, the acting all look terrific.   I hope you will like them as much as I do.   My hat is off to Ryan and Miguel and their team, and to our amazing cast.

So when will you get to see it, you ask?   When will the dragons dance?

I wish I could tell you.   Lots of work remains to be done, as I said, and covid makes planning difficult.   This spring?  Unlikely.  Maybe summer?  Could be.   Fall?  Who knows?

You’ll know when we do.

Current Mood: excited excited

Most Anticipated

December 29, 2021 at 9:38 am
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The new year is almost at hand, and with it will come all manner of new television shows, on network, cable, and streamers.

I have got to confess, I was chuffed to read that the most anticipated new show, according to IMDB, was…

(drum roll, please)

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON!

https://movieweb.com/house-of-the-dragon-imdb-most-anticipated-original-tv-series-2022/

That’s a hell of a list to be at the top of, too.   Amazon’s new Tolkien series?   Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN?  Marvel shows?   STAR WARS shows?

Good company.

I am anticipating HOUSE OF THE DRAGON pretty eagerly myself, for what it’s worth.   Okay, I am hardly objective.   And I know a lot of what you will be seeing.  (I, um, wrote the book).   Also … mum’s the word now, don’t tell anyone… I’ve seen a rough cut of the first episode.   And loved it.   It’s dark, it’s powerful, it’s visceral… just the way I like my epic fantasy.

Ryan and Miguel have done an amazing job, and the cast… just as with GAME OF THRONES, most viewers will only have heard of a few of the actors, but I think you are going to fall in love with a lot of them.   (Only to have your heart broken later when… but no, that would be telling).

I think the Targaryens are in very good hands.

Anticipate away.   I do not think you will be disappointed.

Current Mood: excited excited

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