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The End of the Long Night. If there's a future for more TV shows in the Game of Thrones universe, it won't be one set in the distant past during the Age of Heroes, unofficially known as "The Long Night." Deadline reports (and Variety confirms) that the high-profile project from Jane Goldman starring Naomi Watts is now dead. HBO greenlit a pilot episode for the prequel back in June 2018, but production and post-production of the pilot has since run into a few problems, and HBO must have decided that the show wasn't worth pursuing any longer.

Some key notes from Deadline's reporting:

Showrunner Goldman has been emailing the cast and crew of the project to tell them that the pilot is dead, we hear. The development has not been confirmed by HBO.

Word of the Watts-led pilot, penned by Goldman and directed by S.J. Clarkson, not going forward comes after a lengthy post-production, which included re-editing of the initial cut after it was not well received, and rumors about issues during filming in Northern Ireland.

While this is certainly a setback for fans hoping for more from the world of Westeros, HBO is still kicking around a few ideas for spinoffs, including another potential show from George R. R. Martin and Ryan Condal about the glory days of House Targaryen.

Coincidentally, we recently learned that Game of Thrones' showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have dropped out of their Star Wars trilogy. This appears to be the week that Game of Thrones producers, past and present, quietly announce the death of highly scrutinized projects.

External Link Game of Thrones prequel announces director, cast. During the Golden Globes ceremony on Sunday, HBO released a tiny snippet of new footage for Season 8, in which Sansa says to Daenerys (with Jon Snow watching), "Winterfell is yours, Your Grace." We know who those characters are, where Winterfell is, and what the significance is (if not the sincerity?) of that full statement. We don't, however, know much about the upcoming Game of Thrones spinoff, aside from the fact that it will take place before Game of Thrones during the Age of Heroes, its showrunner is Jane Goldman, and it will star Naomi Watts.

But HBO has just revealed a slew of announcements for the Game of Thrones prequel. The show still has no title, but we have a director for the pilot now -- SJ Clarkson -- and a core cast -- Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, Jamie Campbell Bower, Sheila Atim, Ivanno Jeremiah, Georgie Henley, Alex Sharp, and Toby Regbo. You may not recognize all the names, but the new cast and crew seemingly comes from all parts of the pop culture universe, with various roles in Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight, Black Mirror, Narnia, and Fantastic Beasts, among other things. Furthermore, Bower is technically a Game of Thrones alum; he played Ser Waymar Royce in the show's original pilot. Check out the Entertainment Weekly article for photos of the new crew and their credits.

Unsurprisingly, we have no idea who the new characters will be, but the network and the media outlets are making a big deal about the prequel's diversity. With this in mind, do you have a guess as to where in the world of Westeros the prequel might take place? Do you think some of the new characters will be related, or will they not even know each other at the start of the show? Do you prefer not knowing anything about the new show, or was it more fun last time around because you were already familiar with the characters being cast?

External Link Naomi Watts joins Game of Thrones prequel. Two-time Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts has been tapped to lead the upcoming Game of Thrones spinoff, set during the legendary Age of Heroes. Little is known about her role (and the new show in general), but Deadline reports that Watts will play "a charismatic socialite hiding a dark secret." Watts has a lengthy film résumé that includes Mulholland Dr., King Kong, and Birdman, and she recently appeared on the small screen in the Twin Peaks revival and Netflix's Gypsy.

It's not an accident that Naomi Watts is the first casting decision we've heard about the prequel. Aside from being a high-caliber, in-demand name that the network probably couldn't wait to announce, HBO is setting expectations that the prequel, with showrunner Jane Goldman, will prominently feature female characters, perhaps more so than its predecessor. (Though Deadline previously reported that HBO's president of programming Casey Bloys cautioned, "There are very strong female characters but it's an ensemble; there are men and women.")

More than nine years ago, Peter Dinklage became the first actor to be officially attached to HBO's Game of Thrones. Seven seasons and three Emmys later, Dinklage continues to set the tone for the show and his Tyrion Lannister is perhaps the show's most recognizable character. Will Naomi Watts follow in his footsteps and become the prequel's enduring prestige actor, is she destined to be more like Sean Bean, a high profile actor hired to draw in viewers only to depart as the story just begins?

In any case, Naomi Watts is just the first of what we anticipate will be many additions to the cast. The Game of Thrones prequel is "actively casting for numerous roles and also seeking a director" and is set to begin filming a pilot episode in early 2019. Do you think this is a good first step for the show? Will Naomi Watts be the biggest name to join the show, or will another actor of equal or even higher esteem be part of the show?

External Link HBO orders prequel pilot about the Age of Heroes. Here we go: HBO has officially ordered a pilot episode for a Game of Thrones prequel. We've known for a while that HBO has been busy readying ideas to keep the world of Westeros alive, even as its signature show winds down next year. Now Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd reports that at least one of those projects will continue to the initial production stage. This one comes from writers Jane Goldman and, yes, George R. R. Martin. Obviously, you all know who GRRM is, but Goldman -- who will also act as showrunner should the series be picked up for more episodes -- will be a new name for Game of Thrones fans; her screenwriting credits include the Kingsman films, X-Men: First Class, and the upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie, among others. If nothing else, Goldman running the show ought to alleviate concerns that the Game of Thrones production team has been lacking in female perspective.

HBO has also released the first tidbits about what we can expect from this prequel:

Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros' history to the true origin of the white walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend... it's not the story we think we know."

Hibberd reports that, like Game of Thrones, this story will be spread across multiple locations and clans. He speculates that the show could involve legendary characters like Brandon the Builder and Lann the Clever, and perhaps explore the original Long Night. We ranked Brandon as history's 4th most influential character, and Steven Attewell wrote that Lann the Clever is one of the most mysterious founders of the Age of Heroes, so they certainly have the potential to be compelling featured characters.

If HBO were to order this as-yet-untitled project to a full season, we likely wouldn't see any episodes until 2020 at the earliest. There is also no word on what production of this pilot means, if anything, for the other Game of Thrones projects that HBO might be considering.

We'll no doubt learn more as this project comes closer to production, including more about the story and the actors being cast to lead the show. For now, let us know what your thoughts are about this announcement. Are you happy that Game of Thrones will continue in some form? Do you believe there is enough from the Age of Heroes era to sustain its own show?


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Tower of the Hand is an unofficial companion to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO's Game of Thrones, featuring chapter and episode guides, character profiles, family trees, and much more.

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