Showrunner reveals details about Kingkiller Chronicle series, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s contribution
Okay, so the Kingkiller Chronicle is a trilogy of fantasy books written by Patrick Rothfuss, who’s a lot like George R.R. Martin in that he has a magnificent beard and he’s been working on the next book in his series since 2011. Showtime is making a TV show based on the series (kinda; more on that later), with John Rogers running the show and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda providing the music. (Music is a big thing in these books; they follow a musician named Kvothe who comes from a family of traveling performers and it’s a whole thing.) Details have been scarce, but during a recent visit to the podcast Daydrinking with Gary & Elliot, Rogers gave us our clearest look yet at what to expect.
“Lionsgate had bought [the rights to the Kingkiller Chronicle] in a bidding war and they were looking to do both a TV show and movie and video games and stuff,” Rogers explained. “They brought me in for a consult on something and I wound up, through a series of clever quips and misunderstandings, to be running the television show aspect of it.”
That’s the first thing you have to understand about the coming Kingkiller content. The TV show is just one part of a master plan. In fact, the show won’t even adapt the books — that’s what the movies will do — instead, the show is a prequel about a traveling band of musicians, very likely Kvothe’s family, although there hasn’t been official word on that. Frankly, it makes a me a little nervous; what’s wrong with just adapting the books as a TV show and seeing if people like it? You don’t have to jump straight to a prequel series, Lionsgate. But we’ll see.
Rogers seems like a pretty cool guy, though. As a showrunner, he prefers to fly under the radar:
Now, I am the guy nobody gives a shit about, because I’m running the TV show, but I get to work with Pat [Rothfuss], I get to work with Lin-Manuel Miranda. I get to write something and go ‘Uh, we need a song here and this is what I think it is,’ and Lin just hacks something together and sends it back and it’s brilliant. And if he uses anything of mine, I’m enormously flattered.
Rogers says that MIranda is “very heavily involved in the movies,” but he’ll be writing for the show, too. “The first episode has a big song and I sent him the script,” Rogers said. “A couple of weeks later I get an MP3 in my email box, like, ‘Hey man, new baby, can’t sleep. I was just up, I just laid down both tracks, it’s me doing the call and response. I’m on the piano, I threw in some stuff.’ Seven minutes later my assistant is sobbing as we play this on my phone, and it’s like, ‘How is he that good?’”
Okay, tell me if any of this makes sense: when talking to Miranda about the “big song” in the premiere episode, Rogers suggested taking cues from Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, an Irish rebel song, and “The Chemical Worker’s Song” by Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea. I’ve never heard of any of those things but at least the people making the Kingkiller show are musically literate, which can only be good:
Rogers also talked about the importance of diversity in his writer’s room:
One of the writers is First Nation—he’s Cherokee. It was interesting because one of the characters is kind of from a marginalized group and his feedback is like ‘Hey man, you don’t want to write stereotyped stuff, but this is what it’s like to be a part of an outgroup.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I’m 52 and a white guy, I wouldn’t have known that, thanks man, cool.’ I think that is the thing, people go, ‘Oh, they’re forcing diversity on me.’ It’s like, no dude, you live in a diverse world. If your job as an author is to represent the story you want to tell in your head, fine, write your show. But if you really think your job, as an author or screenwriter or producer, is to represent the bigger world out there, then you need other people’s viewpoints, because the world’s bigger than you are.
So far as outgroups in Kingkiller go, the people that come most immediately to mind are the Edema Ruh, the traveling musicians who kind of recall the itinerant Romani people of Europe. We’ll see if that’s borne out when the Showtime’s Kingkiller show debuts in…
…well, we’re not exactly sure when, but Rogers gave the clearest hint yet when talking about the struggles of writers signed to exclusive development contracts:
This show, I’m in year two, going into three, of development, we won’t shoot it until next year. Well probably late this year, actually. But you can’t just pay me for six months worth of work for four years worth of work, to make, by the way, ten episodes of television.
So the show will shoot either next year or late this year, meaning we can expect it in 2020 at the earliest.
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