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UPDATED: Game of Thrones Screening

It seemed likely the rough cut screening Michael Lombardo spoke of at TCA two weeks ago has taken place by now, and we have as-yet unconfirmed reports that the rough cut was possibly screened at HBO’s New York offices. One person who saw some parts of the footage in HBO’s editorial offices has stated that it looked very good, and the show seemed to have terrific production values and good acting.

However, we’ve since had suggestions sent our way that the rough cut has not been completed, so that no screening would have taken place.

Harry Lloyd Strikes Again

It’s a busy time for Harry Lloyd, cast as Viserys Targaryen in HBO’s pilot, as he gives interviews to publicize his role in the play, The Little Dog Laughed. In his latest interview, he makes an interesting reference to his audition for the pilot:

‘Lloyd may be seen on screens more often if the American pilot he recently filmed is picked up. Game Of Thrones is based on fantasy author George RR Martin’s series A Song Of Ice And Fire and sees Lloyd play the Beggar King Viserys Targaryen opposite a host of British acting talent.

He describes the process of getting the part as: “One of those auditions which you have every now and again for some big American TV series and you’re like ‘Great, thanks.’ You go in and put yourself on tape and send it off and you’ll never hear about it. So I went in and slightly took the p**s with this character, had a bit of fun with it. They loved it.”’

“Took the p**s”? Certainly interesting. On the one hand, one could be very apprehensive that the casting director and producers loved an over-the-top, camp take on Viserys. On the other, it may just be that what Harry Lloyd considers “slightly [taking] the p**s” amounts to an exciting interpretation of the character. Only time (and HBO) will tell if we get to find out.

Harry Lloyd on Accents

The Telegraph has a brief article which features a quote from Harry Lloyd. When mentioning that Game of Thrones is “next” for him, Tim Walker goes on to write:

‘An American accent will not required. “It’s an unspoken rule that if you’re American, you can’t hold a sword,” the amiable actor [Harry Lloyd] tells me. “It’ll be like Lord of the Rings. Everyone will do a non-accent. It will be great fun.’

Big Love Gives Insight

The L.A. times has an interview with Will Scheffer, co-creator of HBO’s original drama series, Big Love, which started airing its fourth season recently. Reading it, I found that some of the topics discussed have some potential implications for how similar issues will be handled for Game of Thrones if HBO’s orders a season. Salient quotes below:

Momoa the Barbarian

Jason Momoa has been cast as Conan the Barbarian in the upcoming film set to begin shooting in March, according to Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollywood. This production should pose no difficulties for Momoa’s role as Khal Drogo should HBO order a season of Game of Thrones, as the production is not likely to start up shooting earlier than April or May of this year, and scenes set in the Dothraki Sea may well be scheduled for later in the production.

VFX Supervisor in Avatar Feature

Robert Stromberg, the visual effects supervisor for the Game of Thrones pilot, appears very briefly in this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creation of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Stromberg served as production designer on the film, and as the film awards season has started his work has been getting serious attention, with a win at the Critic’s Choice Awards and a nomination in the Art Director’s Guild awards (along with Rick Carter) to kick it off.

Stromberg speaks at the 4:15 mark in this video. Blink and you’ll miss it:

Additional Trademark

HBO has added a new trademark class to HBO, to follow up on the several ranges of merchandise it’s previously applied for. This time around, the trademark—filed January 13th—covers, “Resin figurines; key fobs not of metal; non-metal key chains and key rings; mirrors; picture frames; pillows; plastic sculptures; slumber bags; sleeping bags; toy chests; household goods; all the aforementioned goods featuring content from or related to a television series.” Like the Class 021 trademark filing renewed in December, this one is specifically for “Game of Thrones”, as opposed to the earliest filings which were for “A Game of Thrones”.

General opinion is such trademark activity is standard procedure at HBO these days, and should not be taken to imply that HBO’s definitely intending to go forward with a series based on the A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Tom McCarthy’s Next Project

The Daily Record writes about director Tom McCarthy—who directed the pilot for HBO’s Game of Thrones—and his next project, a high school wrestling film titled Win Win which he has written. One aspect covered in some detail in the article is that McCarthy has stated that he’s looking to cast “real people”, and that the lead for the film may well be someone with no previous acting experience. At the end of the article, McCarthy is noted as indicating that, “he had a positive experience casting ‘real people’ when filming the series The Game of Thrones for HBO in England.”

Erroneous title and locations details aside, it’s interesting that McCarthy cites Game of Thrones as a positive experience in regard to casting “real people”. The article does also note that the Win Win shoot will run about seven weeks, from early March into April, so it’s not impossible that if the series is picked up, McCarthy may return to direct one or more additional episodes.

Thanks to maxlongstreet at the A Song of Ice and Fire forum for the pointer.

Game of Thrones Buzz on the Web

Over at Massive Online Gamer, the good folk at the magazine have put together a list of the top ten licensed properties they’d like to see given the MMO treatment. Among them? HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series. An interesting idea, though we’re not sure how they could really capture the qualities that make the series so special—family dynamics, dynastic politics, and the brutality of war—within the typical MMO dungeon-crawl model. That said, they make the mistake of claiming the show will air in 2010. We now know that March-April 2011 is the likeliest date.

Over at remarks at the TCA press tour concerning the series. Specifically: “The fantasy is so incidental, it has a very adult tone… You forget it’s fantasy while you’re watching it, and that’s what I love about it.” The writer fears this is a sign of genre self-hatred which could mean bad things about the adaption, but a lively conversation is sparked in the comments pointing out that Game of Thrones in particular, and the series in general, is markedly low in the fantasy quotient to start with, with only a gradual increase.

Also, they point out one of the very next paragraph: “The pilot will employ some CGI, for backgrounds, the story’s ‘direwolves’(a mixture of real animals and CGI) and dragon eggs.’ Emphasis ours. ;) Although, actually, it’s rather curious why the dragon eggs would need CGI rather than using practical effects props…

As we like to point out here, we’ve seen many, many people start their praise for the series with, “I don’t usually like fantasy…” It’s that quality that could make Game of Thrones a hit on HBO, because it’s a series that appeals to a broader audience than just hard-core fantasy readers.

Of Direwolf Pups and Leases

A nice catch from Daniel, a reader at Winter is Coming, who noted the sale of the litter of Siberian Husky puppies which were used for the Stark children’s direwolf pups. The only thing I can add to that is that from what I was told, two puppies were quite pale/white, and were named Milk and Cream; you can guess which of the pups they represented. The last of the litter appears to have sold six days ago. The photo of the puppy with a link to the original information is below.

While we normally eschew rumors, a commenter named Andrew notes that the studio manager at the Paint Hall has informed him that HBO had been asking about provisionally arranging a five year lease on two of the four “cells” in which the huge building is divided. Each cell is 16,000 square feet (1,487 square meters) in size. Andrew also notes that the pilot sets are presently still standing, and he speculates that the five year deal would be so they could leave sets standing from season to season.

We share this unverified item since it’s quite typical for productions to take long-term leases even in cases where a show may not go beyond a season, since the potential savings if the show is a success could make any penalties if the show comes to an end early seem like a reasonable choice. Showtime’s The Tudors had a similar lease with

Ardmore studios outside of Dublin, from what we’ve read. On the other hand, at least one past HBO series—Oz—only leased its shooting location on a year-to-year basis, apparently because of uncertainty that it would ever get a following season.

Finally, we should note that five years is a fairly standard figure for this sort of production lease. It does not imply that HBO intends either to go five seasons, or to only go five seasons if the show lasts so long.

HBO Says Game of Thrones “Fantastic”

Michael Lombardo, head of programming at HBO, gave some comments concerning their pilot for George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones after HBO’s panels closed at the TCA press tour and the news was looking very good indeed! Matt Roush of TV Guide was the first to report via Twitter that the executives will see a rough cut in two weeks, and that the dailies looked good. He also confirmed what we’ve previously reported, that more scripts had been written by the Benioff and Weiss writing team.

Then James Hibberd followed up with a detailed account of the remarks from Lombardo. Some salient quotes follow:

Blame Pod

The young actress Sophie Turner, cast in the role of Sansa Stark in HBO’s pilot of Game of Thrones, has picked up a catchphrase current among the “Brotherhoods without Banners” fan group and the Song of Ice and Fire forum: “Blame Pod”.

The story of how Pod (also known as the Devilbunny) became the source of all mishaps is too long to relate here, but it seems that Ms. Turner (who recently joined Twitter) believes the phrase is applicable to the production and intends to spread it among the other actors. She cites Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark) as two of her fellow cast members she’s passing it on to. We look forward to hearing the phrase from the rest of the cast and crew in due time, as there’s always an appropriate moment in which to blame Pod.

New Harry Lloyd Interview

This Is London’s lifestyle section has an interview with Harry Lloyd, which mentions his role as Viserys Targaryen in HBO’s pilot for Game of Thrones. In the course of the article, which also covers his theatrical work and his role as Will Scarlett in the BBC’s new Robin Hood series, he mentions that the HBO production has heightened his profile and he has begun fielding calls from American agents.

Hope for “Fresh Horses” at HBO

In the course of discussing the latest news out of HBO, that David Milch and Michael Mann were filming a pilot about the world of horse racing called Luck, James Poneiwozik provides some thoughts on HBO’s development strategies. He notes the fact that many of the upcoming or proposed series at HBO are connected to creators who’ve worked with them before: Milch created Deadwood and John from Cincinnati, Terence Winter was on The Sopranos before producing Boardwalk Empire, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg of Band of Brothers are back for The Pacific, Alan Ball was known for Six Feet Under before True Blood came along, and so on.

Poniewozik, at least, hopes to see more new creators, not just HBO veterans, creating shows in the future at the cable network. He wraps up by remarking that Game of Thrones, with showrunning newcomers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, certainly fits the bill if HBO picks it up, while remarking that the show will have more in common with a gritty show like Deadwood than True Blood despite both having genre fantasy elements.

More Game of Thrones Buzz

MSN Canada joins in the Game of Thrones buzz when film and television critic Kim Linekin  lists the possible HBO series as a show to watch out for in 2010. While this is technically incorrect—it’s all but impossible for the show to air this year if HBO orders a season in March, unless they approach airing it very differently from their standard procedures in the past—it’s still great to see yet another critic getting behind the potential of the series.