Not a Blog

Casting Dunk & Egg

April 9, 2024 at 8:34 am
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VARIETY broke the story a couple of days ago, so this will be old news to many of you, but…

We have our hedge knight.

And he has his squire.

Peter Claffey will play Dunk.   He’s a former professional rugby player turned actor.   And he’s tall.   Ok, maybe not quite as tall as Ser Duncan the Tall, but still plenty tall, and with the magic of television…

His readings were terrific.   I think you’re going to love him.

As Egg, we’ve cast Dexter Sol Ansell.   Most recently seen in the HUNGER GAMES prequel, but he’s got an amazing amount of experience for his age.   I am told he cannot wait to shave his head.   (Love that sort of commitment).

His auditions were wonderful as well.

Peter and Dexter.  They should make one hell of a pair.

Many more parts to cast, of course, but we’re seeing some great candidates.    More news soon, I hope.





Current Mood: excited excited

Wrangled Again!

March 23, 2024 at 3:40 pm
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I am thrilled to announce that DARK WINDS has won a second Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, for the best television drama of 2024.  This is the second year in a row that DARK WINDS has taken the prize.

The winning episode was “Hozho nahasdlii (Beauty is Restored),” the finale from our second season, shown last spring on AMC and AMC+.   Chris Eyre directed,  from a script penned by John Wirth and Graham Roland, based on the novel PEOPLE OF DARKNESS, by the late great Tony Hillerman.   Zahn McClarnon starred as Joe Leaphorn, with Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee, and Jessica Matson as Bernadette Manuelito.  The producing team includes Chris, Graham, Zahn, Jim Chory, Anne Hillerman, Vince Gerardis, Tina Elmo, and me.

Here’s yours truly with last year’s Wrangler.   This year’s trophies will be presented in Oklahoma April 12-13.

(It’s a pretty formidable trophy, all in bronze).

Meanwhile, we are moving ahead with the third season of DARK WINDS, which will start shooting this week in Santa Fe, at the Candle Rock Studio and on location around the state.   And AMC is giving us EIGHT episodes this season, rather than six as with seasons one and two!  More Hillerman to savor!

If you haven’t seen DARK WINDS yet, check it out.  The first two seasons are streaming on AMC+.    It’s a damn fine show, and I think it’s past time Zahn McClarnon got an Emmy.   Maybe next year,

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

Dueling Trailers

March 21, 2024 at 4:32 pm
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You’ve been clamoring for a new trailer for season two of HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.

MAX heard you.   They’ve delivered two of them.   A green trailer, and a black trailer.


All men must choose!

What team are you?  Black or green>

Current Mood: quixotic quixotic

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.

A Blast From My Past

December 13, 2023 at 9:46 am
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I was wandering through the Land of the Streamers a few nights back, as I am wont to do sometimes, looking for a new series or an old movie that might pique my interest.   So many streamers, so many choices, you never know what you’re going to run across.

This time, I ran across one of my own shows:  DOORWAYS, the busted pilot I created and filmed back in 1992 for Columbia Pictures and ABC, is being streamed on Amazon Prime.   Came as a surprise to me.   No one had told me this was happening.

DOORWAYS is the great “What If” of my life.   It was an alternate world show, and had the pilot been picked up to series, well, that would have been my own alternate world.

It all started back in 1991.   I had been working in television and film since 1986, writing for THE TWILIGHT ZONE, MAX HEADROOM, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, then moving into development (“development hell,” as they call it out in LA, and with good reason) doing screenplays and pilot scripts for various and sundry movies and TV shows that never got made, but that summer I found myself between assignments, and began a new novel… a fantasy that would, ultimately, become A GAME OF THRONES.   I was about a hundred pages into that come fall when my Hollywood agent called.  It was “pitch season,” and she had set up meetings for me with ABC, NBC, and Fox, to pitch series concepts.

I had an idea I wanted to sell: an adaptation of “The Skin Trade,” the novella I had written about a hot female private eye and a hypochondriac werewolf collection agent, set in a fictional midwestern city that combined aspects of Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa, both places I had lived.  The story had won the World Fantasy Award, and I thought it had the makings of a good television series.   So I put the novel aside and hopped on a plane for LA.

I couldn’t just go in with one idea, however.   Sometimes, when you do that, you are one sentence into your pitch when the execs say, “sorry, we’re doing something similar,” and the meeting is over five minutes after it began.   My agent had urged me to have a second arrow in my quiver.   I was pondering that on the plane when a line came back to me, the opening sentence of a much older story of mine, a short fantasy called “The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr.”   There is a girl who goes between the worlds, that one began.   I did not think “Laren Dorr” itself would work as a TV series, but that line planted a seed, and by the time I landed at LAX I had the idea that became DOORWAYS.

It was a good thing I did.   As it happens, neither NBC nor ABC nor Fox wanted a werewolf show, but I had that second arrow in the quiver… and all three of them responded to the idea we were then calling DOORS.   ABC moved fastest, and made me a deal within hours of my leaving that meeting.   I spent the rest of 1991 writing — and rewriting, of course — the pilot script, and we got the green light to film early in the new year.   I brought in my friend Jim Crocker from my TWILIGHT ZONE days to share showrunning duties with me, and Columbia Pictures Television (where Jim had an overall) as the studio… and that summer we started shooting.

DOORWAYS (the name was changed to avoid confusion with Jim Morrison’s band and Oliver Stone’s movie) starred George Newbern, Kurtwood Smith, Carrie Anne Moss, Rob Knepper, Hoyt Axton, Tisha Putman, and an amazing young French actress named Anne Le Guernec.   For various complex reasons, we had to push back the shoot a few months, which made it too late to be considered for ABC’s fall schedule that year (network TV was very seasonal in those days)… but when we delivered late that summer, the network loved it.   Loved it so much that they ordered six (6) back-up scripts, an unusually high number.   I spent the rest of that year developing those episodes, writing one script myself and hiring and supervising five writers on the others.   We expected a mid-season pickup.   EVERYONE expected a mid-season pickup.   I had writers sending me sample scripts and agents pitching their clients for staff jobs.   It was an exciting time.

Alas.   The best laid plans of mice and men and television writers… as it happened, there was a shake-up in the executive suites at ABC.  And one of the iron laws of TV and film came into play:  the new guy never likes what the old guy loved.   The new guys passed on DOORWAYS.  We tried to sell it to the other networks, of course, but there were only four back then, and it was a rare thing when any of them bought a show developed by a competitor.   They all preferred home cooking.

That was quite a blow, I will confess.   We had come so close… much much closer than any of my other pilots… so close I could taste it.   And quick as that, it was done.   ABC eventually aired the pilot — “burned it off,” as they did with busted pilots — sometime that summer.  Even there, they screwed it up.   DOORWAYS was a ninety-minute show (ninety minute pilots were all the rage in the early 90s), but they scheduled it for a one hour time slot, then had to pull it.  I think they eventually rescheduled and ran it at three in the morning one night, but I am not even sure of that.   There was also a DVD, where they puffed up to two hours by adding deleted scenes.

There’s a good chance that more people will watch the show on Prime than have ever seen it before.

I hope so.   DOORWAYS was a turning point for me.  It taught me something about myself.   I was well paid for writing and producing the pilot, and for developing those back-up episodes.   Hell, I was well paid for all the pilots I wrote back then.   I was making more money than I had ever made in my life.  But I was not happy.   Working on shows like DOORWAYS, creating worlds and characters and plots, spending months or even years with them… only to find, in the end, that you had been writing for four execs in a room, that no one else would ever see what you had done… it was just too frustrating.   I had been a writer for twenty years at that point, I had won awards and lost them, gotten good reviews and bad ones, and that was fine… but doing work no one ever saw or read… no…

So I returned to that novel I had set aside in 1991, when I got on that plane for LA.   It became A GAME OF THRONES, and, well, I guess most of you know what happened after that.   At the time, I figured I was writing something that could never be filmed.  It was just too big for television, too long for a movie, too much sex, too much violence, too many characters, battles, and castles.

Hoo hah.  You know nothing, George Snow.

If DOORWAYS had been ordered to series… well, maybe it would have been cancelled after nine episodes, or maybe it would have run for nine seasons… television is a crapshoot at the best of times.   The only thing that’s certain is that my life, and career, would have been very different.  So maybe it all worked out for the best.   A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and the world of Westeros is what I will be remembered for, if indeed I am remembered at all.

Like a doting father, though, I love all my children.  (I wrote a story about that too, “Portraits of His Children,” won a Nebula for that one, lost the Hugo to Harlan).   Dirk and Gwen, Haviland Tuf, Willie and Randi, Simon Kress, Abner and Joshua, the Nazgul (the band, not the RIngwraiths), Maris of Lesser Amberly, Popinjay and Lohengrin and the Great and Powerful Turtle… and Tom and Cat and Cissy too.

I am pleased that, at long long last, at least a few people will get to meet them.



Current Mood: amused amused

The Dragons Return

December 3, 2023 at 12:53 pm
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The dragons are coming back.

HOUSE OF THE DRAGON has wrapped its second season, and is now deep in post production.

HBO has just released the first teaser for season two.


HOTD season two coming your way this summer.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Let the Dark Winds Blow

September 28, 2023 at 9:17 am
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Joe Leaphorn’s coming back, I am thrilled to say.

The second season of DARK WINDS was a great success.  If you missed it, you can still catch it on AMC+.  Along with the first season, which is still streaming as well.

And last week AMC informed us that we’ve been renewed for a third season.

The new season will once again be based on one of Tony Hillerman’s amazing novels.   If you’ve enjoyed the show, and want more to tide you over to the next season, read the books.  They are fantastic.

Meanwhile, my thanks to AMC, to our showrunner John Wirth, to Robert Redford and Chris Eyre who made this all possible, and to our cast, crew, writers, and directors.


Current Mood: excited excited

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).

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.





Leaphorn Leaps Up!

August 13, 2023 at 9:08 pm
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Exciting news from AMC about DARK WINDS, season two.

It would not have been possible without Zahn and Kiowa and Jess and the rest of our amazing cast, or Chris Eyre and Billy Luther and our directors, without a first-rate crew (a NEW MEXICO crew, by and large, many of them Native), without showrunner John Wirth and a great staff of writers, without Robert Redford and Tina Elmo and Anne Hillerman and Vince Gerardis and our other EPs… and of course without the late great Tony Hillerman, who brought us Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.

Keep watching, friends, and we hope to bring you many more seasons.  Tony wrote eighteen Leaphorn novels, after all, and his daughter Anne has added eight more since his passing.

(And if you’re enjoying the show, as I hope you are, READ THE NOVELS!   We have some of them at Beastly Books.)

Current Mood: pleased pleased

The Wrangler Comes to Town

July 27, 2023 at 8:49 am
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Back in April, “Monster Hunter” (the premiere episode of the first season of DARK WINDS) won the Wrangler Award for the Best Television Drama from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma.

I posted all the details on my Not A Blog:

I was not able to attend the awards ceremony in person, alas, but the good folks at the museum promised to send the award.

I’m delighted to report that the Wrangler finally rode up here in Santa Fe.

The Wrangler is quite an impressive award, as you can see.   Solid bronze, I think.  I have a few spaceships and nebulae on my mantle, and some busts of literary luminaries as well, but this will be the only cowboy.   I’m thrilled to have him.   We’re very proud of DARK WINDS.

Thanks to the museum, the judges and voters, all the viewers at home, our amazing cast and crew, my producing partner Robert Redford.. and of course the late great Tony Hillerman, whose stories of Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee, and the Navajo Tribal Police are the basis of DARK WINDS.

Speaking of which, the second season of DARK WINDS premieres on JULY 30 on AMC and AMC+.   It’s even better than the first season, I think.   Take a look and see what you think.


Current Mood: pleased pleased