House Sapochnik, mighty as it was, could not survive the Game of Thrones. Just a few days after the second episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series aired back in August, co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik announced that he would leave the show. Despite directing the first episode of House of the Dragon, helming some of Thrones’s fiercest battles, and working with co-showrunner Ryan Condal on the project for over three years, he was mysteriously out immediately after it began. Was Sapochnik just another casualty of Westerosi politics?
At the time, many theorists believed that he had departed the series to work on even more potential spinoffs—especially since the success of House of the Dragon, even just two episodes in, was incredibly high. A Hollywood Reporter story announcing his exit also revealed that he would enter a first-look deal with HBO to develop new projects. “It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally,” Sapochnik said at the time. Now, we know a little more about why Sapochnik left the series so early… and the details are strange to say the least.
According to Puck, a media startup founded by former Hollywood Reporter and CNN reporters, Sapochnik exited after HBO refused to make his wife, Alexis Raben, an additional producer for Season Two. Raben, who played a lady-in-waiting to Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) named Tayla in four episodes of the prequel’s first season, was also credited as a producer for Season One. She was also a big reason that Sapochnik even signed on to work on the prequel in the first place after previously telling Condal that "I’m never doing Thrones again," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Sapochnik eventually decided to join while attending a Game of Thrones Experience Concert in Los Angeles (of all things!), where he explained, “[My wife] turned to me and said, ‘We’re fucking idiots. How can we not do this?'” HBO cited that Raben was too inexperienced to stay on a producer for Season Two, however, and Puck's report revealed that the network even had to bring in a mediator to de-escalate and resolve the dispute between the two parties. Sapochnik later fired his agents at WME and signed with rival agency CAA along with his wife. House of the Dragon won’t return for a second season until 2024 at the earlier, but hopefully this won’t mean war between House Condal and House Sapochnik for the Iron Throne.
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