EXCLUSIVE: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have taken on their first feature project since becoming the architects of the HBO series adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones, which opened its fourth season last Sunday. They’ve made a deal with Fox to write, direct and produce Dirty White Boys, the novel about three violent escaped convicts and the lawman who attempts to track them down. The 1995 novel was written by Stephen Hunter, who also wrote Point Of Impact, the novel that was turned into the Mark Wahlberg pic Shooter.
Benioff and Weiss have been forced to have tunnel vision because of the creative demands writing and exec producing the ambitious signature HBO series Game Of Thrones. This is the first project they’ve made a deal to direct together, and the first since they began the GoT journey. They said it all started while they were shooting the breeze with a bunch of writer pals.
“We’re sitting around bullsh*tting and we started talking about lines we were jealous of before it came around to the familiar topic of greatest opening lines in novels,” Benioff told me. “Our friend Scott Frank brought up the opening line of Dirty White Boys. To be honest, I’d never hear of the book before, even though we’d heard of Stephen Hunter’s sniper series. Scott mentioned that opening line from Dirty White Boys, and it made me go out and buy the book, and Dan bought the book, and then we got past that first line and just fell in love with it.” Said Weiss: “It does grab you, the first line, and what keeps you is that the characters are so well drawn, really charismatic and awful people, so flawed. I don’t think you’ll be able to print the first line, because it’s got prison-soaked racism and is just really out there.”
I thought about this, and figured, what the hell. Hunter wrote it. I didn’t. Here’s the line: “Three men at McAlester State Penitentiary had larger penises than Lamar Pye, but all were black and therefore, by Lamar’s own figuring, hardly human at all.” Read More »
Taking the reins of a book series with a devoted following can be daunting for any producer. But for Game of Thrones executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, the solution to adapting George R.R. Martin’s fantasy bestsellers was to be diehard fans of the source material. Weiss and Benioff also enjoy a fruitful open dialogue with the author, who Weiss says “ultimately understands that we live and breathe this show. Our devotion to it is total. It’s like a cult.” Their ambition also shows in the scope of the HBO series, which Benioff reveals has a budget of “more than $5 million” an episode, making it among the most expensive epic series produced.
DEADLINE: Last time we spoke was when we first revealed you were doing Game Of Thrones for HBO.
D.B. WEISS: Yeah, and you remember that whole Sopranos and Middle Earth thing we first said to you, when you asked for a one-line description of what we wanted to do? Do you remember that line? That line has been haunting us for like 7 years. I always cringe when I hear it.
WEISS: It’s insulting to both Sopranos and Lord of the Rings. It’s one thing where you’re trying to sell, and you say, “My movie is Die Hard meets Above the Law.” Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2011 Emmy coverage. Here’s his scorecard assessing the Outstanding Drama Series Writer race.
Matthew Weiner, Mad Men (AMC)
Why He Was Nominated: What, are you kidding? Weiner has been nominated for 18 of these things and come out on top eight times, including winning both as producer and writer for Mad Men the last three years running. He also took the prize as a producer for a little show called The Sopranos in both 2004 and 2007. The fact that Weiner has personally earned 10 nominations for Mad Men during the past three years alone is a bit astonishing, particularly when you consider that AMC wasn’t on the Emmy map at all until Weiner arrived.
Why He Has To Win: It would take almost an act of God to keep Weiner from taking both the series and writing trophies for a fourth consecutive year, in part because the Mad Men episode for which he’s nominated — “The Suitcase” — is considered both a tour de force for star Jon Hamm and one of the show’s best hours, period. And that’s saying something. The hour was essentially a writing showcase for Weiner and an acting workshop for Hamm and co-star Elisabeth Moss. Cue the bandwagon.
Why He Can’t Possibly Win: That Mad Men is nominated twice here has the possibility of splitting the vote. There’s also the school of thought that the late momentum for Friday Night Lights could carry Jason Katims (nominated for the series finale) to an upset victory. Or, you know, the sun may not rise tomorrow. Anything is possible. Read More »
Feature film writer David Benioff (Troy, The Kite Runner) and novelist D.B. Weiss found mega-success as co-showrunners of their very first TV show, HBO’s freshman medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones. It hauled in 13 Primetime Emmy nominations, including honors for top Drama Series and Writing for an episode they co-penned. That’s more nods than any drama series except Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. Deadline TV contributor Ray Richmond talked to Benioff and Weiss via email about how they’re dealing with overnight success and where Thrones will go in Season 2:
DEADLINE: So has the early success of Game of Thrones surprised you? This is probably a difficult question to answer honestly: If you say ‘No’ it sounds immodest, and if you say ‘Yes’ it appears insecure.
DAVID BENIOFF and D.B. WEISS: We, the insecure, say ‘Yes.’ We always believed the show would find a loyal audience, but our fear was that it could be an audience of 40. Both the number and the passion of the viewers stunned us.
DEADLINE: The author of the Thrones books, George R.R. Martin, once said that he considered his novels un-filmable. What convinced you both they could be filmed after all?
BENIOFF/WEISS: Ignorance. Read More »
His eponymous FX comedy may have been snubbed in the best comedy series category, but comedian Louis C.K. still managed to become the most nominated person at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards with four noms, sharing the honors with The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Louis C.K. was nominated in the lead comedy actor category for his role on FX’s Louie, in the writing for comedy series category for penning the Poker/Divorce episode of the show, as well as in two Variety, Music or Comedy special categories for his Epix comedy special Louis C.K.: Hilarious — for writing and for editing. Three of Schaffer and Taccone’s four nominations were in the Original Music and Lyrics category, in which The Lonely Island’s Schaffer, Taccone and Andy Samberg have a regular presence, often in tandem with Justin Timberlake, having won an Emmy together for Dick In a Box. This year, Saturday Night Live is completely dominating the category with four of the six nominations: three for Schaffer, Taccone and Samberg’s digital music videos I Just Have Sex, Jack Sparrow and their latest collaboration with Timberlake, 3-Way, and one for the song from host Timberlake’s opening monologue. Schaffer and Taccone’s fourth Emmy nomination is in the writing for VMC series category for their staff-writing duties on SNL. Read More »