Game of Thrones is an unstoppable, money-making machine for HBO, and it will continue to be, at least until the show catches up to George R.R. Martin when he’s still in the middle of finishing the second sentence of The Winds of Winter. So it’s tough to remember a time when the show was considered a risky pick-up, because if there’s one thing that people hate, it’s TV shows with violence, moral complexities, bad ass female and male characters, dragons, boobs, and penises, all with a devoted built-in audience. HBO had never aired a fantasy series before, with the exception of Sex and the City (no way that many men would devote themselves to Samantha), and at first, the network’s programming president Michael Lombardo was skeptical of the show. Until one glorious day.
“We had this pilot script and we were budgeting it and scratching our head whether we should go ahead and greenlight this,” Lombardo recalls. “And we were trying to figure out the production challenges. We knew it had to be able to stand next to projects in this genre being done on the big screen yet with a more limited budget.” With the decision hanging over him, Lombardo escaped HBO’s Santa Monica office and hit the gym.
As it turned out, [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] go to the same gym.
“And I see Dan on one of the bicycles,” Lombardo says. “He was reading this dog-eared copy of the first book. And it had underscores and yellow highlights [on the pages]. And he did not know I saw him — I was standing on the side. And I thought, ‘We’re going to figure this out. These guys breathe this show in a way that doesn’t happen all the time.’ I found that little window into Dan in that quiet moment, that this is what he was doing in his free time. It was such an acknowledgment of everything I suspected about those guys, and it made me determined to figure this thing out.” (Via)
To recap, if Weiss hadn’t gone to the gym that day and called Pizza Hut instead, this never would’ve happened:
That should be the slogan for every gym in America. “Come here, lose weight, get an HBO show greenlit.”