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Where This Meets That

HBO’s Game of Thrones Braces for April Fools

Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones series have been counting down to this day. The hype reached a crescendo when HBO declared April 1 “Game of Thrones Day”, promising a return to George R.R. Martin’s fabled Westeros for the Season 2 premier.

But, of course, today is also April Fools Day, and HBO is bracing for controversy when, instead of a true premier, the network will treat viewers to a tribute to Martin’s influences.  The 44-minute featurette was originally planned for inclusion in the Season 1 DVD boxed set before the network changed its strategy.  It will be followed by the opening 15 minutes of the new season.

Martin says the network approached him with the idea immediately after the Season 1 finale.  “You know, many of my readers hail [Game of Thrones] as genius,” said Martin, “but the truth is that it had its genesis in a number of classic works.”

HBO has never shied away from taking chances with its original productions, and Game of Thrones is no exception. From incestuous villains to dragons birthed from women, the series seems tailored to HBO’s desire for nonconformity, but the viewer response when main character Ned Stark lost his head in Episode 10 ignited a light bulb over the head of HBO Films President Len Amato.

“They loved it!” Amato said, “They loved to hate it.  Of course, the readers knew what was coming, but everyone else?  Total blindside that recaptured the old water cooler effect; people couldn’t not talk about it. For me, the wheels immediately started turning,” he explained, “Why wait until Episode 9 in Season 2, when there are undoubtedly other surprises in store?”

Is Amato concerned about backlash?  To the contrary, he seems to invite it, buying into the mantra that there is no such thing as bad press.  He says, “Hardcore viewers already know what is going to happen by reading the books, so what’s another week?  What they will get [tonight] will get exactly what they want: a salute to the works that have inspired this epic series. And if that’s not exactly what they want, then they will talk about it.  A lot.  While we still have the entire season ahead of us.”

The millions who are sure to tune in tonight will see Martin paying homage to many films that helped to inspire his vision for the best selling A Song of Ice and Fire series.  Films featured will include, among others, The War of the Roses (1989), The Hand (1981), Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), and The Princess Bride (1987).  

Tune in to HBO tonight at 9pm EST to catch the Season 2 premier of Game of Thrones. Everything above has been an attempt to cleverly deceive you on April 1, 2012.


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