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Ran

The Competition

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As the Hollywood Reporter news piece noted, HBO has about 10 other pilots ordered for consideration. I thought it might be interesting to try and find what exactly all these pilots are, to try and gauge the odds of Game of Thrones going forward.

[url="http://tvdecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/11/hbo-orders-three-pilots-including-one-set-in-post-katrina-new-orleans/"]This article[/url] at the NY Times lists a number:

[b]The Washingtonienne[/b] - A sex comedy set on Capitol Hill

[b]Treme[/b] - Contemporary urban drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans, by David Simon (of [b]The Wire[/b])

[b]Boardwalk Empire[/b] - A drama set in 1920's Atlantic City, Scorsese attached as executive producer, one of the [b]Sopranos[/b] producers also involved.

* [b]Hung[/b] - Dark comedy about a well-endowed former basketball coach. FIrst of the new slate of shows to be greenlit to series.

[s][b]Last of the Ninth[/b][/s] - Drama concerning police corruption in 1970's New York City, a David Milch project. Reported to be out of contention.

[b]Suburban Shootout[/b] - Barry Sonnenfeld set to direct the pilot, based on a British dark comedy ([url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburban_Shootout"]Wikipedia[/url])

x [b]Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl[/b] - Darren Star project, based I guess on Tracy Quan's semi-autobiographical novel. Huh, an old interview from [url="http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1042747.html"]Haaretz[/url] in February indicates that this show has serious problems going forward, thanks to Showtime apparently grabbing a similar program in a move that Star suggests was intended to try and shutter his project. Later articles still mention it on the slate, but it may be that it's pretty much dead in the water.

The last two are mentioned [url="http://login.vnuemedia.com/hr/login/login_subscribe.jsp?id=5oqi%2BHOaP1Ii4cw0KvPMlj09VHoUU1ZntqHzmkNCG5YG9WAq6db9hzY%2FRuFNP72syjBDdWlff3La%0A8w%2Flu6%2Bln6ORQXaAcRkOtz1nBZJIhIOCWBqSiZ9CaiKROG2UdFA94IPOHeWji5UUQfaYPQVf3Gd2%0AhWd7UtPFwxmqgWqUF54aPvv1fq16ETj6UMfNaZObHyrYArJSIu8cv%2BORZ9DfPbHGmqfLahwdUa03%0AZthBxLzbwt%2FitmA%2B0L1MHPvxZ1%2Fm2mNtWfcZSFo65QPKlqZ%2BrO4J2SVgxzIF7GefszTloxqvtPeK%0AsB9LZdrzD%2BW7r6Wfo5FBdoBxGQ63PWcFkkiEg65kbpSN74B%2B"]here[/url].

[b][url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0942387/"]Untilted Kanye West Project[/url][/b] - Don't know much about this; mentioned in passing [url="http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117988000.html?categoryid=14&cs=1&query=HBO+pilot"]here[/url]. Seems to be a comedy type of thing, given the comedian that's been cast in a role.

[s][b]1%[/b][/s] - A drama about the Hell's Angels biker gang. It was reported that HBO had passed on it as of October 31 (via W. Earl Brown on his Myspace page). There was a copyright infringement suit launched against HBO and the writer, which may have been a factor.

* [b][url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1255913/"]Bored to Death[/url][/b] - Jason Schwartzman comedy about an alcoholic writer pretending to be a private inspector. Picked up by HBO in mid-December.

[b][url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1255915/"]Gentlemen of Leisure[/url][/b] - Drama about prostitution in America.

* [b]How to Make it in America[/b] - Single-camera comedy from Mark Wahlberg's production company. Reported on [url="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i05c8198f5eab4cda986f242ef02e3704"]here[/url]. Picked up by HBO in mid-December.

[b][url="http://www.variety.com/VR1117992915.html"]The Wonderful Maladys[/url][/b] - Half-hour show about three screwy adult siblings who lost their parents at a young age. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, apparently. The pilot is likely to shoot early next year.

So, that's ... well, more than 10. Possibly some of these aren't quite at the greenlit pilot stage, but as far as I can see these all have directors attached, so I'd assume they are.

Looking at this, at a guess the Simon, Scorsese, and Milch projects seem like shoe-ins, given their pedigree. Star's project and the Capitol Hill sex comedy seem to be treading on one another's toes.

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Hung and Suburban Shoot Out sound like they'll bomb, just from the premises I've heard here and elsewhere. The capitol hill sex thing sounds a bit shaky, it'll be the next sex in the city clone that just won't last.

To be honest a lot of these sound pretty crap or just repetitions of things done before and better. (The Katrina one sounds cool though, and I'd be interested in watching the 20s gangster series).

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hmm, my optimistic assessment is that several of these won't fly with audiences HBO screens these for. this is pretty much based off the title and the logline in Ran's post.

Washingtonienne - doesn't feel right for the beginning of the Obama era, sounds more Clinton-ish Washington, really in competition with DoaMCG for the Sex and the City demographic, shouldn't impact the ASoIaF pickup, unless they go with both.

Treme - it's the Wire so it may very well get picked up, but do people really want to keep hearing about New Orleans? could go either way, probably very likely.

Broadwalk Empire - direct competition with ASoIaF (period piece) very likely our stiffest competition, and in the vein of HBO style shows focusing on crime, likely to appeal to executives more.

Hung - this sounds like a bomb, can't imagine sustaining it for a series, and who is going to want to watch a show called Hung?

Last of the Ninth - Life on Mars' is in direct competition, I don't think it's likely to get picked up.

Suburban Shootout - great title, Sonnenfield, likely expensive, could be dangerous to ASoIaF.

Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl - sounds more likely to appeal to HBO's Sex and the City demographic with the slightly scandalous title, and same general vibe, unlikely to affect ASoIaF, I think.

Bored to Death - terrible title, doubt it will be picked up, sounds too eccentric (I heart huckabees eccentric) for HBO.

Gentleman of Leisure - sounds right up HBO's alley, but maybe not competing for the same dollars/slot ASoIaF will be gunning for. More likely to be competing with the women's shows because it's about sex/prostitution as well, don't think HBO would pick up both this and Diary.

How to Make it America - sounds interesting. Could be a cheap comedy pickup for HBO. say hello to your mother for me.

The pilot will have to be fucking outstanding of an incredible caliber and have the audience practically panting for more to get picked up over a lot of these, undoubtedly it'll be the most expensive (except maybe Marty's show, and the Sonnenfield) so it'll have to score highest out of all of these to get picked up, I think. I doubt HBO will roll the dice on ASoIaF if it's only the third or fourth highest scoring of their pilots. And hope for the Marty show to bust, because it's easier to sell a crime drama with Scorsese attached than a fantasy series with no big name attached.

A Song of Ice and Fire definitely seems like the biggest unknown in this group.

I wonder what director they're looking at, if they'll go with a name, or stick with reliable TV guys (most film directors are terrible choices to direct TV because they go wildly over budget and can't complete an episode on time, every single time they try to direct an episode). TV directors are really highly prized, but noone really notices who directs a show, unfortunately.

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Apart from GoT (obviously), I'd like to see the new projects by David Milch (Deadwood!) and David Simon. I guess those are pretty much guaranteed to be picked up, too...

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Game of Thrones, on the other hand, has one thing the rest of these pilots don't. A built in audience. They can already guarantee a number of viewers right off the bat, and that always means something. It would also have zero competition in its field. (I refuse to recognize Sword of Truth of course)

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[quote name='Ouroboros' post='1589985' date='Nov 15 2008, 09.23']Game of Thrones, on the other hand, has one thing the rest of these pilots don't. A built in audience. They can already guarantee a number of viewers right off the bat, and that always means something. It would also have zero competition in its field. (I refuse to recognize Sword of Truth of course)[/quote]

But as mentioned, other proposed series have well known writers/directors/producers. The David Simon piece, for example, will get a substantial portion of the Wire audience pumped for it.

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I know nothing about this stuff. But I'm going to opine anyways, that the comedy shows aren't as such directly in competition with GoT, but they would count towards the ~6 shows that'll get approved.

So, assuming one of the sex comedies gets the go ahead, and maybe the Kanye West program (they're prepping a standup show for Chris Rock as well, so HBO may be looking to expand on the African-American demographic), but the rest don't make it ... and assuming Simon's, Milch's, and Scorsese's projects make it, that gives us probably one slot left. Will HBO go for four dramas, one of them a costly fantasy, and two comedies? Maybe, hard to say.

The Scorsese project is definitely the scariest of the ones on there, IMO. Seems to me it's going to have the biggest budget compared to the other shows, because it's a period piece. If it falls through, I think GoT's chances are likely to increase a bit.

ETA: [url="http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081112/ENT10/811120354"]Here's[/url] a recent article discussing HBO's hunger for new programs. There's a crowded slate of pilots next year. Maybe thinking that at worst it's 50-50 is perhaps a bit optimistic. Knock on wood, cross your fingers and your toes!

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None of these sound that unique to me. Either they are rehashes of successful shows ( Diary/Washingtonienne= Sex in the City), familiar setting rehashes of critical/fan faves (Boardwalk=Carnivale, Treme=Wire), copies of current shows (biker show = Sons of Anarchy) or they just sounds Boring (Bored to Death).

The best news is that none of them are supernatural or fantasy genre'd so ASOIAF is the most "groundbreaking" show in development and stands out from the pack for that reason.

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[quote name='Ran' post='1590023' date='Nov 15 2008, 11.38']I know nothing about this stuff. But I'm going to opine anyways,[/quote]


When has that ever stopped anyone on this board Ran?

I agree that the Scorsese project is probably the dramatic favorite. His name alone would be a big score for HBO. Both Milch and Simon's last shows were critical faves but failed to get the ratings so who knows if HBO will give them another shot or move on.

One thing that might help the cause is if around the time the exec's are making their decisions the Harry Potter movie comes out and makes a billion dollars and the trailer for The Hobbit gets downloaded 50 million times. That could lead them to opt for a show in the genre to try and get a piece of the pie.

Oh, and ADWD coming out and making the bestseller list couldnt hurt either...maybe thats GRRM's secret plan to time the release to the pilot decision!

Fingers/Toes/Eyes/Balls Crossed!

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Also in that article, they note it can be as many as 7 shows that get picked up. Finally, it seems to me that some of the things on my list are actually already shot and done as far as pilots go, and they're waiting on the end-of-year decision as to whether they'll go forward.

There's no way, it seems to me, for GoT to lens this year, so what we'll likely see is a summer filming with a decision as to whether they'll make a series of it by the end of 2009. So ... some of these shows may not be direct competitors. That said, [i]Treme[/i], [i]Boardwalk Empire[/i], and [i]Last of the Ninth[/i] definitely appear to be. [i]Hung[/i] and the [i]Untitled Kanye West Project[/i] are the two which I think will get the go-ahead or axe at the end of this year, from what I've perused.

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Most of those don't sound too daunting. The Scorcese one and the Simon one sound like the most likely simply because of the names involved. The Milch one...who knows, but it did get pre-empted by Life on Mars or whatever that garbage is. Actually I would think A Game of Thrones has a great shot simply on how different it is from the competition.

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About Treme - there was recently a cop show named K-Ville that was set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and it was cancelled after 10 episodes. No idea whether/how that could affect HBO's decision, but they might conclude that people won't watch/remain loyal to a show just because it's set in New Orleans.

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[quote name='Ran' post='1589927' date='Nov 15 2008, 06.18'][b]The Washingtonienne[/b] - A sex comedy set on Capitol Hill

[b]Treme[/b] - Contemporary urban drama set in post-Katrina New Orleans, by David Simon (of [b]The Wire[/b])

[b]Boardwalk Empire[/b] - A drama set in 1920's Atlantic City, Scorsese attached as executive producer, one of the [b]Sopranos[/b] producers also involved.

[b]Last of the Ninth[/b] - Drama concerning police corruption in 1970's New York City, a David Milch project.

[b]Suburban Shootout[/b] - Barry Sonnenfeld set to direct the pilot, based on a British dark comedy ([url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburban_Shootout"]Wikipedia[/url])

[b]Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl[/b] - Darren Star project, based I guess on Tracy Quan's semi-autobiographical novel.

[b][url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1255915/"]Gentlemen of Leisure[/url][/b] - Drama about prostitution in America.

[b]How to Make it in America[/b] - Single-camera comedy from Mark Wahlberg's production company. Reported on [url="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i05c8198f5eab4cda986f242ef02e3704"]here[/url].[/quote]
Washingtonienne is from the blog writer/author's stories about working on capitol hill, no doubt. She pretty famously caused a lot of sleepless nights among pols when she started publishing all the gossip and her own escapades among lawmakers there. Also, she did a hot [url="http://wizbangblog.com/images/wonkettewashingtonienne.jpg"]photo essay of her "date" with Anna Marie Cox[/url] (aka the blogger/journalist formerly known as Wonkette - Washingtonienne has the dark hair, Wonkette is the red-head).

I am pretty sure Treme and Last of the Ninth will get their shot. DoaMCG and GoL are probably both in contention with Washingtonienne - only 1 or 2 will likely make it and only of Gentlement of Leisure is different enough.

What I don't see is that Arthur project that was also in consideration - I guess ASoIaF just kind of killed it, huh? YES!

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Yeah, I recall that stuff from when I read Wonkette. Heh.

I kind of wonder if it's the Camelot show Showtime is doing, if HBO passed and Showtime picked it up?

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I was just wondering what the other pilots GoT would be going against, and I thought, "better, check the forum."

Anyway--I can personally say that none of those shows sound like the would be quite to my taste, though a couple of them don't sound too bad. Although, I don't think "Hung" has any chance on HBO--I've never seen any comedy on HBO that sounds that stupid and horrible. I bet the crime drama one will be picked up, HBO seems to have a lot of those.

GoT, of course, being the only fantasy-based pilot in the whole bunch.

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[quote name='Brudewollen' post='1590348' date='Nov 15 2008, 23.53']What I don't see is that Arthur project that was also in consideration - I guess ASoIaF just kind of killed it, huh? YES![/quote]

Maybe they're just going to buy Merlin from the BBC?

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[quote name='Maltaran' post='1590671' date='Nov 16 2008, 15.23']Maybe they're just going to buy Merlin from the BBC?[/quote]

[url="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr/03/bbc.television?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront"]NBC[/url] have already done that ;).


Sir Thursday

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some of these seem decent but none very good. Maybe im jsut being biased, but what Im really curious about is how many other of these pilots have acquired seriously creditionaled producers / writers / directors etc as Game of thrones have...msot of these series dont seem as though they aare going to be as professionally done and have as much experience backing them at Song of Ice and Fire is going to have and that leads me to beleive they wont be that stiff of competition.

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superkick,

Most of them have people with significant credentials behind them. Milch, Simon, Scorsese, Star, Sonnenfeld, Alan Taylor...

In fact, as executive producers, David and Dan are new to the game. Benioff is a producer on Weiss's film [i]Kashmir[/i] (in pre-production) and is attached (according to IMDB) as an exec producer on the perinally in-development [i]Ender's Game[/i] (thought last I heard, things looked like something may be happening at last with that one). Weiss has no producer credits to speak of (again, according to IMDB).

So if we're just looking at level of experience as showrunners, and assume that it matters a lot to HBO, GoT is at a bit of a disadvantage. I would not actually assume it matters _that_ much though. Doubtless it's a bit of the equation, but if they're willing to make a pilot, HBO sees potential.

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