HBO was unruffled by backlash to the controversial final season of its hit fantasy series, Game of Thrones, according to the network's chief of programming.
"There are very, very few downsides to having a hugely popular show, but one I can think of is when you try to end it, many people have big opinions on how it should end," Casey Bloys told journalists at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. Bloys said that a fan-created petition calling for the show's final season to be re-made with "competent writers," which received more than 1 million signatures, did not affect HBO's plans for the series. "The petition shows a lot of enthusiasm and passion for the show, but it wasn't something we seriously considered," he said.
Bloys added that the petition also had no impact on the Game of Thrones prequel series, which he confirmed has finished filming in Belfast — a key filming location for Game of Thrones as well.
"I'm very excited by the footage I saw by the cast," said Bloys. "They're editing now."
Bloys also responded to a question about the show's Emmy-nominated actors, including Gwendoline Christie, the Brienne of Tarth actress who made headlines after she submitted herself for consideration and earned a nomination in the best supporting actress category. Bloys said that Christie's nomination marks the first time for the series that an actor self-submitted and actually received a nomination — "which was great," he said.
"Game of Thrones is unique because it has 26-28 series regulars, which is unusual," Bloys said, explaining that HBO hires an awards expert to strategize the network's submissions "to figure out what's the best chance of success."
He added, "The challenge for that series is that if everyone submitted themselves, they could end up canceling the entire show. ... Ultimately, if someone decides to submit on their own, we'll help them and their reps do it."
Thrones is nominated for a record-breaking 32 Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Drama Series.
The 71st Primetime Emmy Awards will air live on Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8/7c on Fox.