‘Game of Thrones,’ HBO apologize for decapitated George W. Bush head


A "Game of Thrones" scene in which DVD commentary pointed out that one head resembles George W. Bush. (HBO)
June 14, 2012

HBO has apologized for commentary on the “Game of Thrones” first-season DVD release, in which the executive producers note that one of several decapitated heads on sticks is that of ex-POTUS George W. Bush.

The premium cable network says it has halted future shipments of the DVDs, has removed them from its digital platforms and will edit the scene for future telecasts.

“The last head on the left is George Bush,” one of the show-runners for the popular, and sometimes gruesome, fantasy drama series is heard saying during the Episode 10 commentary — which is one of the extras offered in the first-season release. What appears to be Bush’s head is seen in profile, mostly masked by a long, scraggly brown wig.

“George Bush’s head appears in a couple beheading scenes,” the show-runner says. “It’s not a choice; it’s not a political statement. It’s just, we had to use what heads we had around.”

Given that the first season was shot in Ireland and Malta, according to HBO, it does leave you wondering — among many, many other things — why the producers just happened to have “had around” a head of Bush.

“We were deeply dismayed to see this, and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” HBO said Thursday in a statement after being alerted to the DVD commentary, which was first noticed by the Web site Reddit.

“We made this clear to the executive producers of the series, who apologized immediately for this careless mistake,” HBO continued. “We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and have halted all future shipments of the DVDs, removed it from our digital platforms and will edit the scene for all future airings on any distribution domestic or international.”

The two show-runners who provided the commentary, Americans David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, weighed in, too:

“What happened was this: We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”

‘House Hunters’-gate?

Some Reporters/Bloggers/­
Fans Who Cover Television are in an uproar over the revelation that people purported to be looking for a new home on HGTV’s “House Hunters” had already decided what house they were going to buy and that the other houses they looked at in the episode weren’t even on the market at the time.

One blogger declared the revelation to be of “Woodward/Bernstein-esque” proportions.

“We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints, while honoring the homebuying process,” HGTV has said in a statement, after one of the “house hunters” in the episode outed the network.

“To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process,” continued HGTV, adding: “Because the stakes in real estate are so high, these homeowners always find themselves RIGHT back in the moment, experiencing the same emotions and reactions to these properties” when they look at other homes, even though they’re no longer looking.

The whistleblower/show participant Bobi Jensen was “forced to betray our trust,” as one blogger put it. Bobi J told the blog Hooked on Houses that the show would only “accept” her and her husband as subjects for the show after they’d closed on the house they were buying. She said the show then scrambled to find houses for them to tour and to pretend they were considering. Those houses, she said, turned out to be the homes of two friends — houses not on the market.

Of course, Bobi could have declined to participate in the ruse, so maybe “forced” doesn’t best describe her predicament. Bobi’s husband was a real estate agent at the time, and Bobi freely acknowledged that they were eager to be featured on the show, because it was “free advertising.”

In other shocking “House Hunters” news, it has come to light, thanks to Bobi J, that the producers often shoot five or six takes on a “spontaneous” scene.

“My hubby hates ‘being fake,’ ” complained Bobi J, who added that hubby is now a lawyer — but that they flip houses on the side.

Bobi J has explained on her own blog that the producers relied on them to set up the houses to tour, adding that they tried, unsuccessfully, to find houses for sale where they were allowed to shoot footage. “I think they [sellers] were afraid we’d show their house in a bad light,” she said. “Plus, the San Antonio real estate market was bustling at that time and no one needed free advertising . . . especially when the episode wouldn’t air for six more months.”

Besides, Bobi J rationalized, “Friends whose houses we toured were in the midst of working towards life changes (job promotions, out-of-state moves) and both thought they might be selling in the next few years — so it wasn’t such a far stretch for them to want theirs featured.” In fact, she added: “One actually went on the market and sold before the show aired.”

“I’d like to make clear that I love HGTV!” Bobi added.

Now is maybe not a good time to reveal that some of the celebrity amateurs on “Dancing With the Stars” have had prior dance training and professional dance experience; and that almost no marriage proposals on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are genuine, and they hardly ever result in an actual, you know, marriage, because the participants are really doing it in a bid to become famous and launch an on-screen career.

Second ‘Miss USA’ claim

Fox News reports that another Miss USA contestant says she, too, heard Miss Florida reveal most of the list of Top 5 finalists backstage before the list of Top 15 finalists was announced. But the firm that tabulates the judges’ votes and verifies the results during the live broadcast says that’s not possible.

“I saw [Miss] Florida backstage, and she was very, very flustered and upset. I thought it might be because she didn’t make the Top 15 cut, but at that point, she was able to reveal to me at least four of the five names who went on to be the top girls,” the contestant said in an interview, according to Fox News. The competitor, who is not named in the report, said Miss Florida “couldn’t remember the fifth, because she was so upset.”

Miss Pennsylvania, Sheena Monnin, claimed last week that one of the other competitors told her she’d seen the lists of the Top 5 finalists before NBC’s Sunday broadcast of the beauty pageant started; she claims the women who were named did turn out to be the Top 5 finalists.

Pageant organizers said the other competitor in question is Miss Florida, Karina Brez, who has denied the accusations, saying that she made a “throwaway comment, in the stress of the pageant,” that was “never meant as fact.”

The Miss Universe Pageant — of which the Miss USA Pageant is a part, and which is co-owned by Donald Trump and NBC — has also denied the accusations.

Meanwhile, Ernst & Young — the firm that for years has independently tabulated the judges’ votes and verified the results during the live Miss USA and Miss Universe broadcast — said Thursday, in a long-ish statement, that no one could have seen a list of the Top 5 finalists beforehand. That’s because Ernst & Young did not tabulate the Top 5, it says, until after the evening-gown competition that night.

For previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog.

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