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'Game of Thrones': No wedding ratings gift

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Game of Thrones may have broken the Internet with Sunday’s episode, but it didn’t break its ratings record.

“The Rains of Castamere” delivered 5.2 million viewers, down slightly from the show’s all-time high set earlier this season of 5.5 million.

The non-record performance isn’t surprising. The episode aired after the show took a week off for Memorial Day weekend. And even though it was a highly anticipated hour among hardcore fans who knew what was coming, most casual viewers had no idea the episode contained a shockingly violent wedding sequence as HBO intentionally did not promote the episode as anything out of the ordinary to help preserve the surprise. Expect the ratings to rise for next week’s finale, however, possibly to an all-time high.

Read more:
‘Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley joins USA’s ‘Suits’
‘Game of Thrones’: See our Red Wedding invitation
Game of Thrones’ recap for ‘Rains of Castamere’
‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners talk The Red Wedding
Robb Stark shocker: ‘Game of Thrones’ actor talks heart-breaking twist
George R.R. Martin must-read interview! Game of Thrones author on why he wrote The Red Wedding
Michelle Fairley interview: Why Catelyn made her shocking decision

'Game of Thrones' Michelle Fairley explains Catelyn's murderous decision

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Of all the gruesome surprises on the ninth episode of Game of Thrones this season, perhaps the most shocking was Catelyn killing an innocent child. Faced with Lord Walder Frey executing her son Robb, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) grabbed one of Frey’s young wives and held a knife to her throat. When Frey killed Robb anyway, Catelyn made good on her threat. Below Fairley talks about filming The Red Wedding and why she probably did not watch the episode tonight.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you recovered from the Red Wedding?
MICHELLE FAIRLEY: Yeah we did it, we shot it. We were very fortunate we had a week to shoot the whole wedding sequence and did it chronologically as well. By the end of the week you were getting nervous and you have to remain concentrated as well. But you have to remain because you have to do it right. You have to be in control, you have to be calm. You were just nervous, but in a good and productive way. It was amazing, actually.

At what point did you learn Catelyn’s fate? READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin: Why he wrote The Red Wedding -- EXCLUSIVE

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Millions of Game of Thrones fans are feeling sadness, outrage, and, sure, some perverse excitement after watching Sunday’s episode titled “The Rains of Castamere.” But for Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, such reactions to “The Red Wedding” are nothing new. Martin has been receiving exclamatory emails about the disastrous Tully-Frey union for more than a decade, ever since he published his Song of Ice and Fire saga’s third novel, A Storm of Swords. Below, the author reveals why Robb had to die, gives his reaction to upset readers and spills the scene’s horrifying real-life inspiration.

READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' showrunners interview: The Red Wedding -- EXCLUSIVE

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Game of Thrones just depicted one of the most disturbing death scenes in TV history: The graphic massacre of noble young rebellion leader Robb Stark (Richard Madden) at his uncle’s wedding, alongside his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), pregnant wife (Oona Chaplin) and all of his men.

At about 9:49 p.m. ET, the show’s Twitter fandom exploded. Perhaps the best compliment to the scene’s effectiveness was that there wasn’t much initially tweeted that was very coherent. There was a lot of all-caps agony and wailing.

“The Red Wedding” violence was shocking for many reasons: The safe traditional family environment (it’s a wedding), the betrayal (a cruel deception by the father of the bride), the carnage (pregnant Talisa being stabbed repeatedly in her abdomen; Catelyn murdering an innocent young woman in a busted bluff to save her son) and the apparent unfairness of Robb’s death in particular (he won every battle, yet lost the war).

That many fans are so incensed will probably come as some relief to Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, who were intent on preserving the surprise of the sequence for viewers as much as possible given that the major character-killing twist from George R.R. Martin’s 13-year-old novel A Storm of Swords was only a mouse-click away for the curious to find. Below, the writer-producers talk about the importance of the scene and its long-time resonance with Martin’s readers. Note: This interview was conducted in January, shortly after filming was completed.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So how did it go? READ FULL STORY

Robb Stark shocker: 'Game of Thrones' actor talks heart-breaking twist

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Ned Stark died maintaining his honor. His son died following his heart.

On Sunday night, The King in the North’s rebellion to avenge his father came to a heartbreaking conclusion when he was betrayed by the scheming Lord Walder Frey. Yes, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) is dead. And so is his mom. And his pregnant wife. And his men. And it was all pretty horrific. True, Robb broke his word — marrying field medic Talisa (Oona Chaplin) instead of a key ally’s daughter as he promised. But ultimately he may have died because he didn’t grow up fast enough to win the Iron Throne. Robb had all the battlefield prowess, but not yet the wariness and manipulative social expertise of more experienced players like Tywin Lannister to avoid a deadly trap.

But we’ll always have Madden’s terrific performance. The Scottish actor took a relatively modest character from the books and helped build him into a memorable figure who every bit the equal of the show’s major players. “Thrones has been amazing and I’m really sad to let it go and not be a part of it,” Madden says. “But I knew from the start that this would be my character’s [fate].

Note: The following interview includes Madden’s answers from an exclusive interview with EW conducted months ago, as well as responses from a press conference call with reporters last week (questions paraphrased).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first learn your character’s fate? READ FULL STORY

Jimmy Fallon's 'Game of Thrones' parody will be a ball -- EXCLUSIVE CLIP

He titilated you with The Jersey Floor. He intrigued you with Downton Sixbey. And now he’s going to enchant you with Game of Desks, an elaborate parody that spoofs TV’s most beloved epic fantasy.

In this exclusive clip from Late Night‘s latest lengthy send-up, host Jimmy Fallon enters an elevator as himself — and exits it as a long-haired, bearded, fur-and-leather-clad refugee from Westeros, ready to punish a writer from “the Late Night‘s Watch” for writing bad jokes

We can’t know for sure which of Games‘s characters will get the parody treatment when the full clip airs tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET — maybe Jay Leno will be looped in as the deposed Mad King Aerys? The video does at least give us a glimpse at Late Night‘s take on Varys, King’s Landing’s gelded Master of Whispers. Here, Fallon announcer Steve Higgins plays the part by stepping into elaborate robes and looping a very special necklace around his throat. Put it this way: If you touch the pendant, he’ll turn his head and cough.

READ FULL STORY

'Girls' beats 'Game of Thrones' at BAFTA TV awards

It’s not just New York City twenty-somethings who can’t stop watching Hannah Horvath and Co.

The British Academy Television Awards were held last night and the award  for International Program went to Girls, beating out Game of Thrones, Homeland, and The Bridge. But Game of Thrones didn’t go home empty handed — the HBO drama did win the Audience award (which Girls was not nominated for).

Elsewhere, fans looking for their next option to binge-watch should consider the Olympic-themed Twenty Twelve. The U.K. sitcom, starring Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville, won Olivia Colman the BAFTA for Situation Comedy and Performance in a Comedy Programme. On the more serious side, Last Tango in Halifax won for Drama Series. Last Tango in Halifax follows two teenage sweethearts who are reunited 60 years later courtesy of Facebook.

Shocking losses included The Girl, starring nominees Toby Jones, Sienna Miller, and Imelda Staunton, as well as Parade’s End, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which just concluded an HBO run in the United States.

A full list of winners can be found on the BBC’s site.

Read more:
British cult hit ‘The IT Crowd’ to return for finale special
Peabody Awards honor ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Girls,’ The New York Times (and a bunch of other stuff)
BAFTA announces 2014 awards date, two weeks before Oscars

'Game of Thrones' star Natalie Dormer talks 'Elementary' arc as Irene Adler

As we say in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly hitting stands Friday, behind every man with a thirst for sex and power is an equally clever, manipulative woman… who could be played brilliantly by Natalie Dormer.

The 31-year-old Brit, who broke out Stateside in 2007 as the seductive Anne Boleyn to Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ King Henry VIII in The Tudors and now embodies King Joffrey’s shrewd betrothed Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones, begins a three-episode stint tonight as Sherlock Holmes’ iconic love Irene Adler on CBS’ Elementary (through May 16′s two-hour season finale). “It’s a real privilege to be asked to play that one woman who has gotten under Sherlock’s skin,” Dormer says, noting that Elementary creator Robert Doherty was a fan of her work on the 2011 cult supernatural British TV show The Fades.

Unsure if her schedule would align with the show’s, Doherty and fellow exec producer Carl Beverly wouldn’t tell her much about the arc when they first met. “We had this kind of really amusing conversation where they were like, ‘We love you!’ And I was like, ‘I love you!’” she recalls. Though she got all the details when she officially signed on, she’s still going to be “reasonably coy” with us… READ FULL STORY

How 'Game of Thrones' producers would write a 'Parks and Recreation' episode (and vice versa)

Parks and Recreation characters love a good Game of Thrones reference. So what would happen if the creative overlords of these two vastly different TV worlds swapped jobs for an episode? Treat yourself to the results. (Parks and Recreation‘s season 5 finale airs tonight on NBC at 9:30 p.m.)  READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' star Emilia Clarke to guest on 'Futurama' -- EXCLUSIVE

A question asked frequently by Futurama fans at Comic-Con and other conventions is: Will Zoidberg ever find love? Turns out, that very question will be explored in an upcoming episode. EW has learned that the disgusting decapodian will make a romantic connection with… wait for it… it’s pretty shocking… oh, right, you already read the headline… Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke! READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' ratings hit ANOTHER series high

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Will True Blood get dethroned?

Following the previous week’s dragon-unleashing stunner, HBO’s Game of Thrones climbed in the ratings Sunday night for the fifth episode of the season.

Thrones delivered 5.3 million viewers for its first airing at 9 p.m. That’s up 8 percent from the previous week, which was also a record high, and had built on a previous record high this season. The show was watched by 6.7 million across two plays. So far, Thrones is averaging 13.4 million viewers for season 3 once all airings and DVR playback is accounted for — almost 2 million more than the season 2 average.

There’s some significance to hitting last night’s number. Last year’s True Blood premiered to 5.2 million viewers. Could Game of Thrones overthrow True Blood to become the network’s most-watched series this year? (Yes, they’re on the same network, so it’s all gravy for HBO, but it’s still fun to pit these two shows with heavy online fandoms against each other and see which comes out on top).

Here’s EW’s recap of the Thrones episode and be sure to check out our interview with the cast about the episode’s “hot tub” scenes.

'Game of Thrones' cast talks tonight's steamy hot tub scenes

Just because characters in Game of Thrones are busy struggling for survival in an unforgiving realm doesn’t mean they never bathe — they just often look like they never bathe. Sunday’s hour featured two dramatic pivotal scenes where major characters bared their emotions (among other things) while washing off the grime of the last two seasons.

In the first, Night’s Watch spy Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Wildling warrior Ygritte (Rose Leslie) found solace from the bitter cold and tribal infighting in a cave’s hot spring.

“That was incredible,” Harington told EW after shooting the scene. “It’s something I think we were blessed being able to shoot. That scene in this really dire, dark world where nothing good happens and there’s very little joy. That scene is one of the very few happy moments where you can escape from the grimness and horror of Westeros. We wanted to pay tribute to that scene because in [George R.R. Martin's] books it’s so beautiful.”

The scene was shot in one day and, in case you’re wondering, yes, the water was warm. “There are promises you are made on film sets about water being warm,” Harington said. “Bulls–t, you know it’s gonna be cold. But they made a lovely warm bath for us.”

Leslie called the scene “a very bizarre experience, but it was completely necessary.” READ FULL STORY

'Game of Thrones' does it again: Another ratings record

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Sunday’s stunner episode of Game of Thrones continued the HBO fantasy hit’s streak of setting new ratings records.

The fourth episode of the third season delivered 4.9 million viewers for its 9 p.m. telecast, up 4 percent from last week, with 5.9 million viewers for the night across two plays.

That marks a new series-high initial airing for the show, which returned to its best ratings yet last month and then hit another new benchmark last week. Episode four’s recap is here and here is an interview with producers and Emilia Clarke about the episode’s climax.

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