How Far TV Shows Go to Prevent Spoilers
By Jacqueline McMahon, Staff Writer
Recently, rumors hit the Internet that HBO’s hit Game of Thrones won’t be using scripts for their upcoming eighth season. HBO was hacked in August of this year— the culprits demanded a multi-million-dollar ransom— and when HBO refused to meet their demands, the scripts to unaired GoT episodes ended up online for all the world to see. While it is understandable that the network would jack up security measures in response, reports that the cast would be fed all of their lines via earpiece were met with confusion and dismay, as fans feared that the actors would not be able to deliver their best performances if they did not know their lines ahead of time. Luckily it seems that these reports were false, as the show’s cast was photographed meeting up in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a table read before production began this October.
However, GoT still has other crazy ways to prevent spoilers. Because the show films largely on location in Ireland, Spain and other exotic locales, paparazzi often lurk to get photos of filming, sometimes even flying drones over the sets. HBO decided to start filming fake scenes they had no intention of using during the production of season seven to throw the paps off their scent – they’re also planning to film multiple series endings. The Walking Dead, another popular show plagued by attempted leaks, used the same tactic with its season seven premiere – after season six ended with a main character getting beaten to death off-screen, the show filmed several different characters dying in order to keep the truth under wraps. In fact, one of the fake scenes leaked online before the premiere, which some fans took for the real deal. Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes told The Hollywood Reporter that she has an assistant whose sole job is to create fake production notes, just in case the wrong person gets their hands on them.
Netflix’s 80’s set drama Stranger Things, which recently debuted its second season on October 31st, actually consulted with the producers of Game of Thrones in order to learn about their methods. Stranger Things initially had no security protocols in season one, but after the show became a hit, they found that they needed to be extra careful in order to keep their show secrets. The show currently burns all their daily shooting notes and assigns code names to different characters, and even to the show itself. This was taken directly out of GoT’s playbook— after (spoiler alert) fan-favorite character Jon Snow was famously killed off in the season five finale, the producers attempted to keep his resurrection a secret by keeping the character’s name off of scripts and wardrobe notes, and even banning cast and crew from using his name in conversation. Instead the character was referred to at all times as “L.C.”, short for “Lord Commander”. (Yet, despite all of this, paparazzi still managed to capture photographs of actor Kit Harington in costume on set.)
These kinds of extreme measures come at a price. In the upcoming final season, one episode of Game of Thrones will cost HBO a rumored $15 million— with six episodes, that totals $90 million, not counting any alternate endings which will have to be filmed or the cast salaries, with multiple actors making $1.1 million per episode. However, it seems like HBO is more than willing to pay the price – according to The New York Times, GoT alone makes the network $1 billion annually.