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About Those Spinoffs...

So while I was on the road out California way, the story broke about the four GAME OF THRONES spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.

Yes, it's true. More or less. Though, as is all too common these days, various distortions and misapprehensions have crept into some of the reports along the way. And television being the fast-moving business that it is, there have already been some further developments.

For what it's worth, I don't especially like the term "spinoff," and I don't think it really applies to these new projects. What we're talking about are new stories set in the "secondary universe" (to borrow Tolkien's term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.

None of these new shows will be 'spinning off' from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than 'spinoff' or 'prequel,' however, I prefer the term 'successor show.' That's what I've been calling them.

Yes, I am involved, and have been for months. I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series. (One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not). In the months that followed, other writers were brought in and pitched other ideas. Ultimately HBO decided to go ahead with four separate developments, to be written by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray.

It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That's not quite right. I've actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we've spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire... when we weren't drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I've been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.

And there's more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He's a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don't know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain... but I do think it's very unlikely that we'll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four -- now five -- pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. (If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf).

The one goal that EVERYONE involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as GAME OF THRONES itself. No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate.

I can't tell you what the shows will be about (well, I could, but I won't), but I will tell you a couple of things they WON'T be. Which will disappoint some of you, sure, but better to do that now than later, I think.

We're not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I'd love that, and so would many of you. But I've only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don't want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I've finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we'll do a tv show about them... but that day is still a long ways off.

We're not doing Robert's Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there's a petition... but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert's Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That's not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.

More than that, I will not say. Feel free to makes your guesses, if you like... but I am not going to be confirming or denying anything, so don't expect replies.

And yes, before someone asks, I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it's done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that's the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can't tell you about yet... it's a good thing I love my work.


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Augustin Wenger
May. 15th, 2017 01:48 am (UTC)
Incredible and energetic post! As a contrast to Rhaegar, I love talking about roads not taken, so will we ever know what is the storyline you pitched and that will not happen?
Matt Petolicchio
May. 15th, 2017 01:50 am (UTC)
I know none of it is real, but will the TV shows be one collaborative canon, and the books another?
May. 15th, 2017 01:57 am (UTC)
Incidentally, are you ever going to give a name to the World of Ice and Fire? In the English-speaking world, we call our planet Earth. In the legendary period of Earth history written about by Tolkien, the inhabitants call it Arda. Fans have, in the absence of such official names, dubbed the world of Westeros and Essos and Sothoryos 'Planetos', but that obviously feels a bit tongue in cheek.

Basically, if you were to sit down with a Maester and ask him what planet he lives on, he would have an answer, right?

Edited at 2017-05-15 01:58 am (UTC)
May. 15th, 2017 05:07 am (UTC)
He would probably call it Earth.

Of course, it would not be that word, since he'd be speaking the Common Tongue, not English.

But it would mean Earth.
(no subject) - sdschaffer - May. 15th, 2017 12:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Thx - cyniclclasicist - May. 15th, 2017 01:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bigbadbruin270 - May. 15th, 2017 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ADragonDemands - May. 15th, 2017 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Regarding the Common Tongue and English - Felipe Bini - May. 15th, 2017 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - noybusiness - May. 15th, 2017 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - noybusiness - May. 15th, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - xcalibur201 - May. 17th, 2017 02:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - _travis2323 - May. 16th, 2017 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - deep_name - May. 16th, 2017 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Connor Farris
May. 15th, 2017 02:00 am (UTC)
If you could have a cameo role, or even a major role, in any current or future production of your Westeros-based works, who would you choose to portray?
May. 15th, 2017 02:05 am (UTC)
glad to hear Winds is getting love alongside all this new excitment. :D
May. 15th, 2017 02:14 am (UTC)
it can only be
Aegon the Conqueror
B1G Terp
May. 15th, 2017 05:28 am (UTC)
Re: it can only be
Some good stories here.

#1 I for one want to know the contents of the note that was delivered to Aegon by Nymor.

Perhaps one of those things better left unsaid and we are left to our own devices to imagine the worst.

#2 What was the vision of the Doom to come. Why did Celtigar and Velaryon come with the Targaryens? They believe in the visions out of hand?

#3 Harrenhal!
May. 15th, 2017 02:43 am (UTC)
I won't lie
I get excited every time you even reference TWOW in a blog post. I'm very glad you're doing it your way instead of letting deadlines pressure a premature release. I'll be delighted when it comes out.
May. 15th, 2017 02:50 am (UTC)
Fingers crossed for a Robert's Rebellion show.
Please please please please, let it be a Robert's Rebellion show! I want to know more about Brandon, Lyanna, Ashara, Rhaegar, young Ned, young Robert, etc.
Ray Feighery
May. 16th, 2017 06:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Fingers crossed for a Robert's Rebellion show.
That was already addressed in his post:

"We're not doing Robert's Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there's a petition... but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert's Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That's not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale."
Lee Rosenbach
May. 15th, 2017 02:58 am (UTC)
Successor show ideas
Very cool news GRRM.
I personally would love to see a family comedy based on the early years of the Lannister children growing up in Casterly rock?
Working title "2.4 children"
May. 15th, 2017 03:20 am (UTC)
Wikia asked me to make an official video on this...
Points of clarification, your grace: I'm one of the head Admins over on the Game of Thrones Wiki and the Wikia/Fandom higher-ups asked me to make an analysis video about "Game of Thrones prequels" that they'll put out across the entire Wikia network as popup news. I was delayed due to Mother's Day...fortuitous, as I assumed Dunk & Egg and Robert's Rebellion were in play.

Tens of thousands of people are going to see the video I prepare on the prequels for the Wikia network.

I realize that you can't talk about much of this as you said, but I hope I can get some points of clarification for the video we're making:

Question 1 - What format would these be in? We assume long-form TV series. Some suggest one-off TV movies are also in play here. Are you saying that these are five separate pitches for five year long TV projects? Or animated perhaps?

Question 2 - Of those four writers, did HBO assign them, or did you pick them? Or confirm them? (Did they come to you or you to them) Good to see female writers now (haven't had on main series since Season 3)

Question 3:

How much creative involvement, if any, will Benioff and Weiss have on the new projects? Obviously not showrunners but I mean would they be in a position to forward some broad general ideas or is their continued attachment strictly a money thing?

Question 4:

The one big change to past history the main TV series made is that they omitted Jaehaerys II, for unknown reasons. I even asked Cogman about this in Q&A back in Season 2 and he just bluntly answered "yes, we cut Jaehaerys II". This removal of an entire generation messes up the entire family tree (who exactly Olenna was betrothed to...)

...but with no Dunk & Egg OR Robert's Rebellion, I guess we can table that question for now.

Unless of course you're doing a more focused "Rise of Tywin" series based on the Westerlands reading history (I'd have made that Dunk & Egg Season 5 or something).

Actually, that isn't the only time D&D changed history.

Some months ago I actually asked about this and you answered: they *made up* a passing reference to a "King Maegor the Third" (which was probably a mistake or a joke), and you said you weren't consulted and it might be a joke, or a mistake.

This highlights a bigger issue:

Other sites in the Wikia network have strong working relationships with the creative teams behind major franchises. We're freelance fact checkers and here to help. The Star Wars Wiki is in *regular contact* with the Lucasfilm Story group, to ask for just points of clarification and stuff. Star Trek Wiki similarly is in regular contact with the movie scriptwriters.

Basically, the wiki teams are their version of what Elio & Linda are to you: the fact checkers who make a freelance encyclopedia for the fun of it.

In contrast, we have zero working relationship with the TV writers on the current Game of Thrones TV series. They don't answer any of our attempts at contact, even a simple thing like "Hey, was Maegor the Third a joke or a mistake? And if it was a mistake, you could have checked the Targaryen family tree we maintain".

Or "from one episode to the next you say Ellaria Sand has four daughters then five daughters - we could have helped you with this".

So if you can point them in our direction, we're really hoping to start over fresh with the new showrunners and build a positive mutualistic relationship.

Edited at 2017-05-15 12:48 pm (UTC)
May. 15th, 2017 03:28 am (UTC)
Why Would Anyone Want Robert's Rebellion?
Glad to hear the comment on Robert's Rebellion. Part of what made the Star Wars Prequels so bad was that the story was largely already known. I can't see why anyone would want that. It's part of the reason in retrospect, I sorta wish a AFFC would have done the 5 year jump. A little ambiguity is a good thing.
May. 15th, 2017 05:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Would Anyone Want Robert's Rebellion?
I will slightly disagree with you. I'm a huge Star Wars guy, and the reason why the prequels were bad is because the writing was bad and the directing was bad. the only reason that Revenge of the Sith was better You could hand off a general outline of "Young Anakin becomes Darth Vader and throw in something in there called the Clone Wars" and 9 out of 10 writers and directors would have come up with something not just slightly better, but significantly better.
Williamjames Hoffer
May. 15th, 2017 03:29 am (UTC)
Successors to GoT
Thanks for the update! Really helps. Always appreciate your dedication to the fandom. My pitches: A detective in Valyria (using powers of deduction, dealing with the ruling families, politics in the Freehold, slavery and empire, some magic, dragons); a hedge knight before the Conquest with one season in each of the seven kingdoms; a ragtag team of adventurers exploring planetos, visiting the free cities, finding new civilizations, learning about magic and mysteries; and a group of students at the Citadel dealing with secret identities, Citadel intrigues, and Oldtown chicanery like Northwestern students only medieval. Best to you and congratulations on your success!
May. 15th, 2017 04:01 am (UTC)
Nooooo, I Love HotPie's Hot Pies!!! I can just feel the group of SellSwords he's gathering at the Inn will have him seated on the Iron Potted Throne when ADOS is eventually finished.

I'm also sure the Blackfysh loves Westeros just as much as anyone. I honestly check his Twitter more than the your Journal for Winds updates. Helps keep me optimistic for good news after a day of Trump News misery.

Will Tom Brady be a highborn Dragon Rider from Valyria before the Doom? Him in Valyrian Steel Armor on top of the world would be a sight to see.

Lastly, when are we going to get a POV chapter who's character was born and raised in the Vale? The only kingdom you enjoy leaving out. Alyane doesn't count.
May. 15th, 2017 04:16 am (UTC)
If even one of those scripts does not begin with a cold open in Asshai: malpractice.
John-Perry Bentley
May. 15th, 2017 04:19 am (UTC)
it's a shame it's not Robert's rebellion or Dunk & Egg, But still really excited. no other shows can come close to a show set in Westeros.

I'm dying for Winds, can't wait. keep up the good work, and thanks for the updates.
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George R.R. Martin
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