Don't hold your breath for a Red Wedding -- or a dragon -- next season on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
At least not in the Season 9 episode written by "Game of Thrones" executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, which will include a scene that was filmed in Center City on Thursday. (There's no airdate yet for the episode, but the show, which is moving from FX to its new spinoff channel, FXX, is expected back in September.)
“No. It’s not at all" like "Game of Thrones," said "Sunny's" Philly-bred creator and star Rob McElhenney Thursday in an interview during a location shoot at 9th and Green streets in Philadelphia. "In fact, when they said, ‘Hey, [we] have an episode we’d like to pitch to you, I instantly knew” that it wouldn’t be related to the HBO show.
“I realized, no, those guys work 10 1/2 months out of the year on their show. Why would they ever want to spend their off time writing something similar? In the same way that I would never want to write, you know, a half-hour basic-cable comedy in my free time. So it really is closer to ‘Sunny,’ a real traditional episode of ‘Sunny,’ than it is ‘Game of Thrones.’”
Asked if he might get to return the favor and write an episode of "Thrones," the St. Joe's Prep grad looked coy.
"Well, I might show up on 'Game of Thrones,'" he said. "You might be surprised." (Or not. "Lost" fans might remember McElhenney making a couple of appearances there.)
Perhaps as one of the wildlings who live beyond the Wall?
“A wildling — that would be pretty great. A White Walker? Just my face as a White Walker?”
If you do run into McElhenney or his wife and co-star, Kaitlin Olson, around Philly -- the show was scheduled to wrap up two days of filming here on Friday -- please don't bring up Sunday's episode of "Thrones."
“I’m not caught up because we didn’t see this past weekend. We didn’t see the finale. We saw the Red Wedding episode.”
And, no, he hasn't read the books. "I'm an Unsullied."
When he moderated a "Game of Thrones" panel at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in March, "that’s what fans were asking: ‘Is this the season of the Red Wedding?’ And I didn’t know what they were talking about, the fans. And David and Dan kept saying, ‘Yep, this is the season. But we’re not going to say any more about it.’ So I was completely surprised,” by what happened in the June 2 episode (which I'm not going to describe here, in deference to those who may be even further behind).
Given the demands of running a show that shoots all over the world, how did Benioff and Weiss even find time to watch "Sunny," much less write for it?
"I know for us, I have very little free time, between the show and the kids [he and Olson have two young sons]. So we watch three shows. ‘60 Minutes,’ ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Game of Thrones'... three shows that are almost the polar opposite of what we do on ‘Sunny.’ Because I think when you have your free time, you want to get away from the stuff you’re doing on a daily basis. And I think for them, being stuck somewhere in the middle of Morocco, pulling 15-hour days shooting ‘Game of Thrones,’ they wanted to find something that was a little bit — well, very much — different from they’re used to. I think that’s how they found ‘Sunny,’” he said.
How they came to write for it, though, sounds more like an only-in-Hollywood story.
"I met Dan at a party and he introduced himself as Dan Weiss and I’d never heard his name before, because I knew him as D.B. Weiss. So I didn’t put it together. But he kept telling me how much he loved the show and we spent the night hanging out. And then maybe like two weeks later, I said to Kaitlin, ‘I think that guy I was talking to, his name is not Dan Weiss, it’s D.B. Weiss.’
"Turns out I have some friends in common with Benioff, and I emailed him and said, ‘By the way, I met Dan — would you guys like to have dinner?’ And so we went out, Kaitlin and I, Dan and his wife and Benioff and Amanda [Peet, Benioff's wife] went out to eat and we became friends. So we probably hung out three or four times socially. And one night we went out to dinner and they said, ‘Hey, we want to pitch you an episode of the show.’”
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