Two middleweight novelists, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had come to a similar conclusion and obtained Martin’s blessing at what the author calls “that famous lunch that turned into a dinner, because we were there for four or five hours” in 2006. The two writers thought Thrones could only be made as a premium-cable drama, and they walked into HBO’s office with an ambitious pitch to do so that year. “They were talking about this series of books I’d never heard of,” says Carolyn Strauss, head of HBO’s entertainment division at the time. “[I was] somebody who looked around the theater in Lord of the Rings, at all of those rapt faces, and I am just not on this particular ferry … I thought, This sounds interesting. Who knows? It could be a big show.”
HBO bought the idea and handed the reins to Benioff and Weiss, making them showrunners who’d never run a show before. Benioff was best known for having adapted his novel The 25th Hour into a screenplay directed by Spike Lee. Weiss had a novel to his credit too. The two had met in a literature program in Dublin in 1995 and later reconnected in the States. “I decided I wanted to write a screenplay,” Benioff told Vanity Fair in 2014. “I’d never written a script before, and I didn’t know how to do it, so I asked [Weiss] if he would write one with me, because he had written a bunch already.” It never got made.
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