The “Game of Thrones” fandom got good news and bad news this week in the form of one killed-off, untitled prequel pilot, starring Naomi Watts, and one straight-to-series order for spinoff “House of the Dragon.” And while we have many, many, many questions about the show that’s moving forward, which is centered on House Targaryen, we still have one burning query about the now-dead pilot: Why did HBO decide to scrap it?
And we’re sorry to say that even George R.R. Martin himself doesn’t know.
“As exciting as the series order is, I would be remiss if I did not also mention the bad news,” Martin wrote on his “Not a Blog” blog Wednesday. “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,” the “A Song of Ice & Fire” author continued. “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.”
As for the prequel that HBO is moving forward with, “House of the Dragon,” that series is co-created by Martin and “Colony” co-creator Ryan Condal. The 10-episode spinoff is based on Martin’s “Fire & Blood” book, and takes place 300 years before the events of the original “Game of Thrones,” which ended its eight-season run earlier this year.
Its story will center on House Targaryen, the family that Emila Clarke’s Daenerys belonged to, along with her brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) and nephew Aegon Targaryen a.k.a. Jon Snow (Kit Harington).
Miguel Sapochnik — who directed several fan-favorite episodes of “GoT,” such as “The Long Night,” “Battle of the Bastards” and “Hardhome” — and Condal will serve as co-showrunners on the series and executive produce alongside Martin and Vince Gerardis. Sapochnik will direct the pilot and additional episodes.
“Ryan Condal has already done a considerable amount of writing on HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, but a lot of work remains ahead of us,” Martin said. “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).”
Martin says he expects “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.”
Wait, don’t you need to first finish writing …
“But… let me make this perfectly clear… I am not taking on any scripts until I have finished and delivered WINDS OF WINTER,” he continued. “Winter is still coming, and WINDS remains my priority, as much as I’d love to write an episodes of HOUSE.”
Oh OK, good.