While the jocks were living it up Wednesday night at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater, the nerds had the hottest ticket in Los Angeles as HBO and “Game of Thrones” took over Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Season 7 premiere.
But it wasn’t just nerds who filled the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Stars of all stripes — including comedian Patton Oswalt (and fiancée, actress Meredith Salenger), “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stars Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson, and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love — all turned out for an early look at the return to Westeros.
Among the attendees eager to take in the spectacle were many members of the show’s extensive cast and crew, including Kit Harington (with former “Game of Thrones” cast member and current girlfriend Rose Leslie), Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner (with beau Joe Jonas).
Before the first episode of the seventh season of the epic fantasy adapted from the George R.R. Martin book series was revealed, the audience was treated to a brief concert featuring the “Game of Thrones” orchestra, as conducted by series composer Ramin Djawadi.
“Thank you all for braving rush-hour traffic to get here,” quipped David Benioff as he, alongside series co-creator D.B. Weiss, introduced the orchestra. The pair went on to share the story of how Djawadi joined the series after initially turning them down.
“We groveled and begged until he couldn’t take it anymore and finally said yes,” said Weiss.
Opening with the show’s iconic theme song, Djawadi and the orchestra quickly transitioned to two themes from the Season 6 finale: “Light of the Seven,” which underscored Cersei’s acts of vengeance, and “The Winds of Winter,” the music scoring the final moments of the season.
Just before the episode started in earnest, a special pre-recorded message from Jon Snow was played. “I am the shield that guards the realm of men from spoilers,” Harington intoned as Snow, going on to pledge himself to keep that oath every night until Sunday’s premiere.
“HBO takes this vow very seriously,” Snow continued. “I know you will as well.”
“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” Ygritte (Leslie) responded, a winning reference to everyone’s favorite Snow-related burn.
Finally, it was time for the episode, which was called “Dragonstone” and featured characters and places. And that’s really all I’m able to reveal at this point.
After the screening, the party moved across the street, where HBO had taken over the roof level of Classic Parking to set up what can only be described as a winter white wonderland.
The visage of the Night King loomed over all, with glowing blue eyes and a defiant “I woke up like this” look, while white and silver dominated the decor palette.
Celebs from all manner of HBO shows made appearances at the party, including Jimmy O. Yang, Martin Starr and Suzanne Cryer from “Silicon Valley”; Timothy Simons from “Veep”; Mark Duplass from “Room 104” and “Animals”; and Damon Lindelof of “The Leftovers.”
Guests occupied themselves with a photo booth where they could sit on a mock Iron Throne and nosh on Loch Duart salmon and fictionally, seasonally inappropriate gluten-free Summer Salad.
The sprawling party also featured white-clad stilt walkers whose gauzy outfits stood in stark contrast to the white “GOT” hoodies and khakis worn by the wait staff.
The transformed parking structure gave a scenic overlook of both the Los Angeles skyline and the concert hall itself, where “Game of Thrones”-themed projections painted the classic curves of Frank Gehry’s architecture.
At the far end of the party, interpretive dancers swirled on a giant map of Westeros as a DJ spun kicky party beats, while a group of bongo-playing percussionists banged along. All wore white.
The party showed every inclination of lasting well into the night — and why not? Thanks to the Emmy eligibility period, “Game of Thrones” had nothing at stake Thursday morning, when the Emmy nominations are set to be announced, and were free to party in peace.
Really, it’s a power move to throw a rager of a party the night before everyone else in the industry is honored (or overlooked) by their peers.
A woman in white standing alone behind the DJ waved me over. She offered to paint my arm with tribal markers.
“What tribe?” I asked.
“Game... of Thrones?” she offered.
Good enough for me. We are all part of the “Game of Thrones” tribe now.
“Game of Thrones” returns with its Season 7 premiere Sunday on HBO at 9 p.m. PDT.