October 19, 7pm EST - finally starting to read the Kindle version of "Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon".

Taking notes. If something shockingly new grabs my attention (that others overlooked) I'll post it as a reply to this (mostly to remind myself).

In the preface, Hibberd outright explains that the book contains "fifty" new interviews with cast & crew - by which he means each paragraph blurb, but I don't begrudge that: even one paragraph can contain revealing, vital info. Also admits he re-used some prior articles.
Also openly explains at the beginning that where relevant, he re-used material from prior interviews - I also don't begrudge HIM for that (the Sansa rape quotes by D&D are all years-old, they apparently didn't want to talk about it again, but I don't blame him for that)
And, as I've said before....a lot of people in the Twitterverse and Reddit have been remarking on quotes in this which I recognized as old ones, from Season 5 or 6, which the hardcore online crowd considers infamous. So yes it helps to recirculate them to new people.
Preface keeps emphasizing how historic Game of Thrones was for the sheer amount of stuff they actually filmed on location, particularly the huge battles in later seasons like Battle of the Bastards. Hey, remember how well Season 1 was received with LIMITED budget?!
I'll yell about this in a video: so much of D&D seems to have been...graft. Showmanship. People making Season 8 honestly thought it WOULD be the next Lord of the Rings, because of the sheer scale of it. Location filming means impressively throwing money around.
But the mere fact that they were so focused on the physical production scale, even when greenscreen would have sufficed and been far easier, really shows they WERE NOT worried about conveying "the story", they were trying to one-up other producers with "the biggest show ever"
"How dare you criticize Benioff & Weiss for Game of Thrones - you owe them sympathy for how much they nearly worked Kit Harington to death by insisting on location shoots instead of filming on green screen"

The book is a sympathy ploy that backfired, just like Last Watch.
The first page of the book contains a typo; claiming that Battle of the Bastards was filming in "October 2014"....before Season 5 even aired?

"It's October 2014. There are 600 crew members, 500 actors, and 70 horses in a Northern Ireland field to film the Battle of the Bastards"
Consider that Benioff was always in charge, he's the one GRRM's literary agent sent copies of the books to...then Benioff called Weiss. He's a prop, like Plainview's "son" in There Will Be blood. "The Writing Duo of Benioff & Weiss" sounds more professional than Benioff alone.
Consider that Benioff called WEISS to bring him on board, Weiss was...just the "first Cogman" - a yes-men he hired up (Dave Hill was already being groomed as the next Cogman; an assistant they promoted up with no training, based on loyalty).
Sorry to keep repeating "Consider" :)

What I'm building up to is: Consider that Weiss's first and ONLY book...was published in 2003. A mere TWO YEARS before their meeting with GRRM.

Benioff wasn't much better; he was being groomed as a "brand name" for Oscar bait scripts
Repeats the hyped story that "D&D successfully answered GRRM's question about Jon Snow's mother! They pulled the sword in the stone!"....Benioff & Weiss carefully crafted their own myth. Hyping this moment. It wasn't really that special, as 1 - it had been a major fan theory
R+L=J had been a major fan theory for years and is actually kind of obvious from the first book alone (the scene of Kingsguard defending Lyanna was in book ONE, they moved it to season 6) and more importantly 2 - they were literally the only pitch who even read the books
Hibberd isn't saying this I'm saying it based on other reading: the way movie pitches work is you get a 100 page "treatment". Originally ASOIAF was being pitched as movies. NONE of the other pitches even had to read the damn books - they had the answer simply from reading it!
....the literal, direct equivalent...is if the Star Wars Original Trilogy was a book series being adapted, you'd get a very short "pitch" from studio directors back to the author, vaguely outlining "the Empire & the Rebellion & the Jedi" but not mentioning "Vader is Luke's dad"
Actually consider that in such terms. If Star Wars was a book: someone patting themselves on the back for knowing that "Vader is Luke's father"...showing they actually read/watched the whole thing on a basic level. No other pitches actually read the books.
So it's shallow praise, and if you've followed how many god damned times they repeat that story over the years....D&D were hyping up their own sugar-coated version of what actually happened. Conscious of building up their own myth. Hibberd just repeats it.
"Having worked in Hollywood, George knew about people who read [a synopsis of a book] and then say "oh, this could work as a Lord of the Rings knock-off - the fact we read the books and could speak to them with some degree of knowledge, I think that meant something to him".

"GRRM asked us how we would handle backstory exposition, which is more difficult in TV than in a book.

I don't remember what our answer was. We probably came up with some bullshit" -- David Benioff

George R.R. Martin on the pitch meeting where Benioff & Weiss promised to be faithful to the books:
They actually pitched the show to3 outlets: DirecTV was one potential buyer but considered rather unexciting and limited. They also pitched to Showtime, who were interested, but at the time only known for modest spending. HBO really seemed the obvious choice (due to "Rome").
Actually, even at the lunch pitch meeting with GRRM, they discussed "DirecTV, ShowTime, or HBO", but they felt HBO was their best choice even at the lunch meeting.

"And if there was one person at HBO you had to impress in order to sell your pitch, it was Carolyn Strauss"
@WiCnet @Dan_Selcke @westerosorg this is from chapter ONE
A big new takeaway from Chapter 1, which I'm going to stress in my review video...is the question of "was GRRM at fault for entrusting this to D&D? Or was HBO?" - a two step process, pitching to GRRM then pitching to HBO. Who got duped more? The answer is HBO.
Because Chapter 1 spells this out: it is actually common practice for an executive producer or even head writer, to NOT be in charge of "physical Production" - to instead hire expert directors to run day to day production. HBO fought Benioff over this and LOST.
So purely from a production standpoint, not story decisions but all the wasted time & incompetence (filming at night in total darkness etc).... GRRM was RIGHT to anticipate that HBO could simply hire up production staff to do that FOR Benioff; it's standard practice, actually.
GRRM was in desperation, no one was willing to do his books as a TV show and not truncated movies. He knew full well how little D&D knew about filmmaking, & had every reason to think HBO would hire on professional directors/production team to DELEGATE that to.
THE HBO people in this.....their actual defense of why they trusted Benioff to PERSONALLY MICROMANAGE all aspects of production, is a short paragraph, which seems intentionally vague, to gloss over what's actually a very pointed and embarrassing question:
The book bizarrely focuses on the HBO execs saying "we were convinced D&D knew the source material very well due to their in-person confidence & because we saw them reading it all the time"...this ONE page is all they say about their lack of production experience:
It reads like a bad comedy: Michael Lombardo says that what really convinced him D&D were committed to this was "Weiss coincidentally came to the same gym I do, and without him seeing me, I saw him on the exercise bike reading a copy of book 1 filled with sticky notes"...BUT...
But it never seems to occur to Lombard....what if this was more than a mere "coincidence"? It sounds contrived. What if D&D made it a point to "just happen to be around" where they knew HBO execs would be, and made a big performance of being seen reading books filled with notes?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, even if this story about "I saw him reading the book" is entirely correct, OR all the times that "they came in to pitch meetings to HBO and very confidently talked about how GRRM's story is amazing"...NONE of this has anything to do...with justifying PRODUCTION!
It spends all this time talking about how passionate they were about the STORY, the word "confident" keeps showing up (Benioff is a con man), but it just glosses over the other side of that coin: "How did D&D convince you to let them personally micromanage Production?"
It's just this ONE bizarre page in the book, where Hibberd even admits "standard practice would have been for HBO to hire on other directors to delegate that to"....and Strauss just says "they convinced us they were learning".

The world's most expensive film school.

Ultimately, HBO's Richard Plepler hired Benioff & Weiss and gave them total control with no oversight...because he had a good "gut feeling" about them, given how confident they sounded in pitch meetings.
HBO “eventually” spent roughly $20 million on the pilot (apparently that includes reshoots? I heard it was initially $10 million), and then another $54 million on the rest of Season 1.
Moving on to Chapter 2: Casting Process, there's hardly anything worth quoting. Obviously Chapter 1 - how they pitched it, was disproportionately important. "Casting" involves a lot of stories we actually knew already, and thus I regard it as fluff about celebrity actors.
I'm not sure exactly how Shae was case in this; the actress said she "got the part" but then "didn't want to do it"...because she felt Shae's lines were too mean to Tyrion for being a dwarf. D&D wrote her back a long letter begging her that "we'll rewrite Shae to be nicer"
Wait...it says she paid out of pocket to fly to London specifically to audition for Shae, but then didn't like the script once she actually saw it (felt it was mocking dwarfs - but it's a non-PC medieval world)
According to Jack Gleeson, his two biggest influences on how he played Joffrey were Commodus from Gladiator (I knew that, and see it very strongly) and also..."Hexxus" (voiced by Tim Curry) in Ferngully: watched some clips, when he does a guttural sneer it's a bit like Hexxus.
Arya was officially the hardest role to cast, they auditioned more actors than any other role (D&D and also GRRM heavily involved in casting reviews). If you think about it, Arya is the youngest major character carrying full storylines (Bran is younger but not nearly as big)
I don't mean that as a knock against Bran, just in terms of the sheer amount of material he gets compared to Arya in the first 3 books / 4 seasons; Bran is handicapped and not even around action scenes that much, Arya gets stuck in the middle of the war, goes to Braavos, etc.
So the problem was Arya is the youngest major role (Bran is younger but not as big)...and most 10 year old actors aren't very good. "3/4 of them were just reciting lines". Interestingly, GRRM points out "some of the others had basic acting classes, so they'd OVER-ACT"
That is, the few 10 year olds auditioning for Arya who had basic acting training....gave it a basic performance with no nuance. They were over-acting, and "over-emoting" (constantly grimacing or rolling their eyes, exaggerated movements). 12 year old Maisie had nuance.
@nkjemisin #GameOfThrones #BryanCogman #emmyssowhite #Demthrones

Cogman has blocked me on Twitter. Anyone reading this please Retweet/Reply it at his new account: @ "cogman_bryan" (remove the quote marks and put the @ symbol right next to the "C")

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Short take I don't have time to develop now but will later: basically the Hibberd book presents D&D as rattled about how bad TV-Dorne went in Season 5....but they approached it with an "it's never my fault!" mentality. The warped "lesson" they took was "no new characters!"
The warped "lesson" they took from the failure of S5 Dorne was "it's GRRM's fault for having so many characters! and introducing new ones in the middle of a long book story!"...instead of "our writing is awful, and we fetishize Dorne as 'our Brazil'..."
So there's this whole thing in the Hibberd book where they say the "lesson" they took from the failure of TV Dorne was "GRRM has too many new characters in later books - condense everything into characters we already know" (instead of building up Aegon VI and Golden Company)
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