Entertainment Weekly has a big spread on Season 5. has a full report on it with notes:

I have also fully read an illegally scanned copy, though I thought it would be inappropriate to just link to it. Mostly I just read this to confirm or expand upon some points that made, clarifying some issues. (I don't really pay for things - I am after all, a starving unemployed Historian holding only a Master's Degree in Medieval History).

Be that as it may, I made this list to summarize all points of note -- a lot of the other stuff is just "Isn't Season 5 amazing?!" without real content.

Story points:

  • Cersei nude scene - we already knew, but confirms they're using a body double. Previous interview Headey explained that Cersei is never naked, even in sex scenes from Season 1, because even back then they were anticipating that big moment. Which is great but...the writers didn't want Cersei to be naked until that scene, years away...yet Headey won't do it? She probably has her reasons, and I understand the disconnect between "Cersei" the character (a combination of acting, costuming, lighting, camerawork, and special effects) and "Lena Headey" the actress. She did nude scenes in other previous stuff. Maybe she's embarrassed about post-pregnancy body, I dunno.
  • Harington said that Melisandre is "trying to seduce" Jon Snow this season - not that big of a departure and depends what he means. That's just how Melisandre reacts to people she's interested in - and Jon Snow caught her eye as important ("she looked through the flames, but all she saw was Snow"). She flirts with anyone she "takes an interest in". I doubt this means a significant change.
  • As reported, person filming in Belfast who doesn't die in the books at this point dies. I'm not that upset because, despite all of the hype...maybe they're just condensing characters who die in book 6, and we didn't know they were *going* to die. That doesn't upset me as much, that's more "outpacing the books" than "changing the books".
    • Also annoying how much the casual media hypes this - people already died in the past TV seasons who didn't die in the novels! -- Though I get the impression they mean more important ones. Still, I don't necessarily see it as "changing the books" - for all we know, Jojen Reed was supposed to die in the next novel! I mean it's a "surprise" but I wouldn't call it a "change" if it turns out that way. We're just outpacing the novels.
    • Some of the editors at think they might be killing off Barristan Selmy - which is sad, but again - for all we know he dies in the next novel, and they just pushed it forward.
  • They're having Ellaria ask for vengeance...again dumbing down and simplifying the female characters to create dramatic tension. Similarly in Season 1 they had Catelyn saying "we'll kill them all" - when in the books, Catelyn and Ellaria are both pleading not to continue the cycle of revenge and the further losses their families will suffer (In the novels it was Arianne who asks for vengeance...well, later Ellaria doesn't outright try to prevent Arianne's attempts to ally with Young Griff, but she is wary about it).
  • There will be "three weddings" this upcoming season. Again, the casual media (idiots who don't pay attention and just try to make hype where none exists) started badly guessing about what this means - we do know that there's a Tommen/Margaery wedding, plus the Daenerys wedding scene at Daznak's pit. Stupid random speculation about the third...which I'm 100% confident is Ramsay's wedding. The real question is Ramsay and WHO, which ties into...
  • Ramsay "gets a new plaything to torture".
    • Is Sansa going to be Fake Arya? Are they even going to bother introducing Jeyne Poole a this point? Or are they going to use Myranda? I think Myranda is annoying - yes she's basically the show version of the Bastard's Boys (Ramsay's cronies), but a big point I think they need to show is to have Ramsay casually kill her (he doesn't bat an eye when some of the Bastard's Boys die in the novels) - the point being that he doesn't really care about anyone, isn't loyal to anyone, and will turn on them at a moment's notice. This of course ties in with the confirmation that Sansa will be part of a delegation of Vale soldiers going to Winterfell...but in what context?
  • A character portrait for "Where we left them" (just a headshot and off-colored), does seem to show Reek wearing Vale-style clothing. Maybe he just borrows one of their outfits for the wedding?
  •'s writeup says "no Lady Stoneheart this year" -- just to clarify, I read the article, and EW doesn't know anything we don't already know, they're just repeating those old reports from back in Season 3. So I don't take it as any new confirmation.

Production notes:

  • The biggest production news is what already quoted over there: the HBO execs are actually all in favor of the show getting as many seasons as it needs, but the writing team wants it shorter -- oh haha, for your "families"? Because you're "tired" of running the most successful TV show on the planet? We're in this for the species, boys and girls! There is no art without sacrifice. There is an increasing theory, though, increasingly probable, that "Season 7" will actually be oversized and split into two micro-season blocks, i.e. two separate blocks of 8 episodes each. And to be honest, I'm totally fine with that, that's a good compromise. I'd rather nine seasons, but for a while things were looking to be only 70 episodes.
    • Sort of a running theory has is that Benioff and Weiss are waiting for a confirmation, total confirmation, of seasons 7/8 or oversized season 7...and then Season 6 will back up and haphazardly do several plotlines omitted from Season 5, specifically everything the Greyjoys are doing and Arianne Martell, and maybe Young Griff.
    • That being said, it does continue to fill me with confidence that HBO will eventually pursue prequel projects set in Westeros, i.e. Tales of Dunk and Egg and maybe later Dance of the Dragons.
  • It costs about $8 million to film an episode of Season 5 now, making it one of the most expensive TV productions ever (ranking up with HBO's Rome series).
  • The "Category A" cast members got a pay raise this year, about $300,000 a year according to rumors. These are the Big Five: Cersei, Jaime, Tyrion, Daenerys, Jon Snow (Arya and Sanda are important but being underaged they don't get paid as much apparently). One of the reasons they're worried about not just going for nine seasons is because actors rarely sign contracts for longer than six seasons, so now they've got to massively renegotiate. My answer to HBO: shut up and give them raises, they're making the most popular TV show *on the planet* and worth every dollar.
  • Shooting on Season 5 ran for 202 days (though the actual amount of filming on a given day varied, given their multiple filming units).
  • The big fight sequence at Hardhome took a whopping 17 days to film.
  • The on-set production badge always has a different image on it each season (i.e. maybe Season 3 had a Daenerys face on it or something). Season 5's production badge image had the White Walker leader on it - whom Entertainment Weekly calls "the Night's King" but I think they're just randomly guessing.
  • EW points out "don't be confused" between "Doran" Martell's name and "Dorne" -- PAY ATTENTION (though...I haven't heard them slurring it with a Dornish accent yet...yeah it might sound weird out loud)...
  • I will have a photo of this: the opening sequence now includes Dorne and specifically Sunspear castle,'s only labelled as "Dorne". They dumbed it down because they think the morons won't be able to keep track of the idea that "Sunspear" is the capital of Dorne, just as Winterfell is the capital of the North!...(sigh)...well, the whole point of the in-episode opening credits map is specifically to "inform" those viewers who have never even looked at a map of Westeros before and can't keep the locations straight. Like a simplified map made for little children.
  • They actually had a discussion about whether nude male extras (who have been very few on the show...) should be allowed on-screen if they've been circumcised - it doesn't seem that circumcision is very common in Westeros or Essos from the novels (we've heard *one* mention that the inhabitants of the Thousand Isles, way northeast of Ibben, are known to do that). They said "whatever" and let the circumcised extra go on screen anyway.
    • Might seem trivial, but what this informs us is that Adam Friedberg's strong Male Gaze automatically assumes "our all male audience will be averting their eyes from another dude's penis, not closely examining it" - part of an overall pattern.