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‘Kingkiller Chronicle’ TV Show’s Premiere Episode Features Lin-Manuel Miranda Song, Showrunner Talks Ten-Episode First Season

Music will be a major component of the The Kingkiller Chronicle TV series, including a song written by Lin-Manuel Miranda for the premiere episode. In a wide-ranging interview on the podcast Daydrinking with Gary & Elliot, Kingkiller TV series showrunner John Rogers discussed collaborating with Miranda, the shooting schedule and his approach to diversity in the writers room, providing new insight into the Showtime adaptation of Patrick Rothfuss’ bestselling fantasy series, The Kingkiller Chronicle.

“Lionsgate had bought it in a bidding war and they were looking to do both a TV show and movie and video games and stuff,” Rogers said, describing how he first got involved with The Kingkiller Chronicle TV series. “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.”

Rather than an adaptation of The Name of the Wind or The Wise Man’s Fear, the first two books in The Kingkiller Chronicle (Rothfuss is still writing Book 3, The Doors of Stone), Roger’s show is a prequel, following the family of Chronicle protagonist Kvothe, who hails from a culture of traveling bards and entertainers known as the Edema Ruh. About a year into development on the series, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda signed on to executive produce both the TV series and movie, in a position Rothfuss described as “president of the Don’t-Fuck-It-Up Committee.”

Miranda, embarrassed at the overwhelming press coverage, which minimized Rogers’ ongoing development work on the Chronicle TV series, emailed Rogers links to bad review of his own work as a conciliatory gesture. But Rogers told podcast hosts Gary Anthony Williams and Elliot Blake he prefers staying out of the spotlight, describing himself as a “back of the house showrunner.”

“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 said of their ongoing collaboration, describing Miranda as “very heavily involved in the movies” because of Kvothe’s musical talents.

But Miranda is also writing songs for the TV series, Rogers confirmed. “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?’”

Rogers described his three original references for the song in the script and said Miranda had already cited to him similar musical touchstones for the series. For the premiere episode’s big number, Rogers suggested a combination of Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, an Irish rebel song (likely, “Come Out, Ye Black and Tans,” but Rogers named a variation on the title) and “The Chemical Worker’s Song” by Canadian folk rock band Great Big Sea.

Together, they capture instrumental virtuosity, working-class anger and a singalong song style, appropriate to the nomadic lifestyle and tradition of musical cultural transmission found among Kvothe’s people in The Kingkiller Chronicle.

Rogers also described why he feels it’s important to have diversity in The Kingkiller Chronicle TV series’ writers 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,’” Rogers described on the podcast. “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.”

Rogers, who has a multi-decade career writing for sitcoms, movies, animated series and comics, also dropped a few more details regarding The Kingkiller Chronicle TV show while describing new economic pressures on writers, particularly long development periods that stick writers in exclusive contracts with long gaps between the actual paid work of writing episodes.

“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,” Rogers said.

In the context of the discussion, it’s possible Rogers was speaking theoretically regarding the number of episodes in the first season of The Kingkiller Chronicle series, since he was using it as an example to highlight new changes to pay structures the Writer’s Guild of America is pursuing. But it sounds like The Kingkiller Chronicle series will begin filming a ten episode first season late this year. What that means for an actual series release date isn’t clear, but there’s a distinct possibility we’ll be singing along with Rogers, Miranda and the Edema Ruh some time in 2020.

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