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'Game of Thrones': Three-eyed raven soothsayers, pinball games and Faye Dunaway -- inside the L.A. premiere

Winter finally came to Los Angeles … by way of Westeros.

The creators and sprawling cast of "Game of Thrones," HBO's fantasy epic, descended on Hollywood on Sunday for the Season 6 premiere bash. The TCL Chinese Theatre served as host for the unveiling before attendees ignited a glamorous stampede that headed across the street toward the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the afterparty.

Season 6 of “Game of Thrones” comes with a heavy helping of curiosity because readers of the “Game of Thrones” books no longer have an advantage over TV watchers on how things unfold. In case you’ve been living under a rock, George R.R. Martin, the famed author behind the books the drama is based on, did not complete “The Winds of Winter” ahead of the Season 6 premiere -- meaning, the series will now be carrying some spoilers.

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Fans of the fantasy opera will find out how things play out when “Game of Thrones” returns on April 24.

But until then, we take you inside the premiere. Here were our takeaways -- the ones I managed to hurriedly type up, because when the lights dimmed inside the theater, Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister threatened the audience about cellphone use: “Those who violate these rules will be boiled alive.” (That would not be a good office look for Monday, so I didn’t risk it.)

It was a star-studded affair
In addition to the players of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and beyond -- Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and several others -- there were other noticeable attendees. The guest list included Robert Kirkman (creator of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”), Damon Lindelof (creator of HBO’s “The Leftovers”); Regina King (“The Leftovers,” “American Crime”), Thomas Middleditch (HBO’s “Silicon Valley”), Faye Dunaway, as well as Kristen Bell (“Boss”) and husband Dax Shepard.
George R.R. Martin
The man in the signature black fisherman's cap was noticeably absent at Sunday’s premiere -- likely to avoid any nagging questions from curious fans about “The Winds of Winter.”
Jon or Jon?
HBO programming president Michael Lombardo took the stage at 8 p.m. -- half an hour after the proposed start time -- and addressed the question he said he’s been fielding for more a year. Or so we thought. “Everyone asks, ‘Is Jon coming back? Will we see him this year? Is he alive?’ Let me use this moment to set the record straight,” Lombardo said, before quipping: “Jon Stewart will be coming soon to HBO. He is alive and well.” Lombardo, of course, was playing off last year’s news that Stewart had signed a four-year production deal with the premium cable network.
By the numbers
When “Game of Thrones” co-creator David Benioff addressed attendees, he noted what a “beast” Season 6 turned into. And then he listed a bunch of statistics that had me experiencing a range of emoji expressions. Benioff noted: There were over 680 hours of dailies -- the unedited footage shot during the production of a show -- which translates to 3.7 million feet of film. The show shot in five countries: Croatia, Iceland, Canada. Northern Ireland and Spain. The show employed 900 crew members in Belfast, and 400 in Spain. They issued 140 script revisions.
HBO didn’t leave a raven unturned
A dragon flew on the side of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Granted, it was an animated dragon, but still. A small, quiet affair this was not. Banners from the noble houses of Westeros, including House Tyrell and House Greyjoy, hung at the Chinese Theatre. At the center was a massive centerpiece of the three-eyed raven, the mystical creature that recurs in the series. At the afterparty, a towering Iron Throne served as the centerpiece inside the ice-blue-lighted main room, where white furniture was plentiful. There were various stations tucked in corners were guests could get henna tattoos, get a reading from a “three-eyed raven soothsayer,” or get tote bags made with their favorite “Game of Thrones” insignia. When they weren’t dining on fattoush salad or short ribs with crispy onions, some revelers hit up “Game of Thrones” pinball machines, others posed at the Hall of Faces photo booth. There was even “Game of Thrones” honeydew ale available for consumption at the Game of Thrones Inn and Alehouse. And, unfortunately (or not), the famed bowling alley inside the hotel was closed due to a direwolf takeover.
Spoiler-free spoilers
Since I don’t want to spoil the Season 6 premiere, we offer this to help you get your emotions in check: I noted two instances of full-out cheering, one gasp-worthy moment and about three occasions that incited laughter. “It felt great to hear how people reacted,” Benioff told me after the screening. “People freaked out when they were supposed to freak out. People seemed into it. To hear them cheer was awesome.” Clarke, who was seated nearby, said she hopes the audience response in the theater will be the same reaction viewers at home will have when the drama returns in a few weeks. “This season has our fans sort of wondering what’s going to happen because they don’t really have anything to go off of,” she said. “That’s how we, the actors, went into it. We were like, ‘What is going to happen?’”

 

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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