At 'Game of Thrones' premiere, nerds can identify

The cast and crew of the hit HBO show come to San Francisco to screen the first episode of season three, and the hotness was off the charts. Even Google Glass made a cameo.

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SAN FRANCISCO--For the record, although "Game of Thrones" is said to have perhaps the largest cast in television history, Craig Newmark is not on the hit HBO show.

Which raises the question: Why was the founder of Craigslist making his way down the red carpet rope line at the "Game of Thrones" season three premiere here last night?

In contrast to the real premiere, held a night earlier in Los Angeles, the event here was filled to brimming with the best and brightest in the world of technology. Twitter employees were abundant, some sporting shirts with the social networking company's now-famous bird logo, and some of the beautiful people (non-cast members) in the audience were wearing Google Glass . And yes, everyone was talking about it. Score one for Google.

Then again, the author of the " Game of Thrones " novels, George R. R. Martin -- who is also an executive producer and writer of the HBO show -- may well be one of the least tech-savvy people working today. During a Q&A session after the screening, he told interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg of AllthingsD that to this day, he writes on a Microsoft DOS computer using WordStar 4.0. In response to the question "Are you digital," Martin repeated a line he's trotted out before about how he would still prefer communications sent via "parchment tied to the leg of ravens" to modern technology.

That, then, might be why HBO trotted out Newmark -- if you've got a bunch of tech reporters hungry for someone to talk about technology in conjunction with something like the Dark Ages-like fantasy epic "Game of Thrones," maybe you should have someone intimately tied to technology who can answer some questions.

Of course, Craigslist, as useful as it is to millions of people, is often held up as one of the least technologically advanced services on the Web. So perhaps Newmark was there to wave the geek pride flag. After all, he told CNET that his favorite "Game of Thrones" character is the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, played by Peter Dinklage. "As a nerd," Newmark said, "I can identify."

'Game of Thrones' actor Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, speaking at the Season three premiere Wednesday night in San Francisco. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

And asked why he really was behind the rope line at the event -- when everyone making their way down the line to talk to the assembled press gaggle was either a member of the cast or a producer -- Newmark simply said, "I'm just wandering around. A nerd's got to do what a nerd's got to do."

It was only after he walked away that it occurred to me that I had missed my one opportunity to ask the founder of Craigslist what a personals ad in Craigslist Westeros would be like. I'm sure the words "smoking hot," "heir to the throne," "skilled with swords," and "dragon-friendly" would be part of it.

Speaking of geeks, or nerds, though, it was interesting to note some of the cast members' opinions on the fact that "Game of Thrones" has a significant following among the tech set. Actor Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow, said he thinks it might be because one thing about geeks is that they "love escapism and they love fantasy."

Executive producer D.B. Weiss said he thought it might have something to do with the fact that "people in the tech world can handle complexity," and "Game of Thrones" is nothing if not complex. I dare anyone who hasn't read and then re-read the books or seen the first two seasons multiple times to intelligently recap the story so far and keep it all straight. This is, after all, a show with one of the largest casts in television history, we were told.

CNET's Brian Tong takes a picture of George R. R. Martin, the writer of the 'Game of Thrones' novels, and an executive producer on the HBO adaptation of the books. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Sadly, HBO brought out only eight of the show's actors to the San Francisco screening of the season three premiere (which will show on HBO starting March 31, and which fans are no doubt going to love), and favorites like Dinklage, Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen), and Lena Heady (who plays Cersei Lannister) were absent. Still, "Game of Thrones" poster boy Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell) and Harington were there.

I wondered if Harington uses Twitter, but he said no. Mirroring a common belief that Twitter is simply a place for telling the world what you're up to, he said, "I talk about myself enough, to be honest, doing things like this. And I think if I spent my spare time writing about myself to the world, then I think I'd go crazy."

I also wanted the opinion of some involved with the show about the fact that on the one hand, so many people are cutting the cord these days, refusing to pay for television service at all, let alone for premium channels like HBO, and that on the other, keeping up-to-date with a show like "Game of Thrones" requires access to the service. Harington and Martin both noted that the show is currently the world's most-pirated. HBO probably has mixed feelings about that, given that it's losing potential revenue, but that it's gaining an audience.

Martin added that it's important to remember that any show on HBO, no matter how successful, has a smaller audience than the broadcast shows he worked on in the 1980s, when people had far fewer entertainment options. "We're moving into an era when we have so many choices," Martin said, mentioning cable channels, Netflix, and original Web programming. "So I don't know what's going to become of it. I leave that to the guys with the suits. I'm just telling my stories."

San Francisco was treated to a screening of the 'Game of Thrones' Season three premiere Wednesday night. Daniel Terdiman/CNET
 

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