Wheel of Time TV pilot fiasco

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
Apparently, Red Eagle Entertainment were about to lose the TV, film, and game rights for Wheel of Time.

So, more or less on the day of expiry, they quietly paid for the placement of a "pilot" on late night cable TV (01:30am) - one that by all accounts they'd made over a couple of days, a couple of weeks before.

A screening made with no fanfare or announcement of any sorts.

According to Red Eagle Entertainment, this aired as a pilot, and therefore qualifies as producing a series - and therefore means they can continue to retain the potentially lucrative TV and film rights.

Aside from being a blatant and underhand way to retain rights - unfortunately, common - I suspect this action is going to court because this was not arguably a "pilot TV episode" but instead merely an infomercial.

And Jordan's estate are furious.

More here:

and here:

And if you can stomach the poor production and scripting of the "pilot", here you go:
Wow. Talk about last minute panic!
Shame as WoT would probably produce enough episodes to keep us all going for years if done properly ;)

Bet Harriet and Bandersnatch will be quick to destroy REE and get the rights back. Depends on the contract though, but a decent set of lawyers might be able to grab the rights back :)

That "pilot" is just shocking!
I heard about this on FB yesterday. I havent had a chance to check it out but will find time.

So strange. I really hope they do destroy it, what a joke.
Oh dear. I heard about this late last night but still haven't been able to bring myself to watch the pilot. Hopefully the rights will return to Jordan's estate soon, if not go to someone who can actually do something with them.
It's probably too much to hope that they will redo the job properly. That casting seemed more of a joke then anything.

I have heard that there is being made headway upon the gaming front, though.

It's too bad they hedged their bets with this last minute attempt. Think of the lovliness to occur if someone like Peter Jackson of Wingnut productions, or James Cameron, were to get ahold of the rights.
Mad Alice, first let me say that I'm playing devil's advocate here. This is post is in no way intended as a personal attack upon you.

I respectfully disagree that either Jackson or Cameron could bring loveliness to the story. Both would surely impress us with scenic visuals and actions sequences made specifically for 3D IMAX, but I believe both men would butcher the story. Jackson got his mitts on Tolkien's works... and while he gave us Theoden's charge, Andy Serkis' amazing Gollum, incredible panoramas, and Sam's valiant battle with Shelob, he also gave us Radagast's poop face, a jackalope rocket sled, Denethor's 200m flaming dash, a skateboarding elf, Aragorn's cliff stunt, and complete reversals of a number of important characters: Elrond, Denethor, Faramir, and Treebeard. And as for Cameron... unobtanium? Really? Was inaccessablite already copyrighted? And now he's making Avatar 2: The Search for Absurdium. Actually, I think the name on the periodic table is Preposterousite. Now.. on to Titanic... the greatest romantic movie since Gone With the Wind. The plot is that a rich girl cheats on her fiancee, steals his money, lies to her mother, abandons her lover to his death, and fakes her death instead of actually breaking up with her fiancee... then taunts the man spending hundreds of millions to find the treasure, glorifies her immoral actions, and finally destroys her stolen treasure so that no other human being can ever enjoy it's beauty nor be inspired by it's magnificence. This is what we show our daughters? Very Niiiiiiiice.

I agree that both men would give us stirring visuals, but neither would give us a sensible story. I can go the museum and be visually inspired without having my intelligence completely insulted.
Boaz, your links aren't leading to the intended posts, just Chrons' front page.
I'd not be too sure that Jordan's Estate can easily recover the rights.

Ever read Ursula Le Guin's article about the Earthsea production?


I'd nearly read that link as Earthsea Miseries.

It's all too common on TV & Film adaptations.
Tolkien only sold his rights so as at to have money in trust for his family to pay death duties. Christopher wasn't really consulted at all, and while they were unhappy about aspects of LOTR, they could do nothing. Who knew that the Hobbit would be worse?

Dodie Smith sold 101 Dalmatians to Disney. They also purchased "I capture the Castle" When then realised what is was they thought of Hailey Mills, then she got too old. Fortunately someone else got the rights and the film does justice to the book.
While Disney's Mary Poppins is fun (though Dick van Dyke's accent is gruesome), it nearly drove P.L. Travers to tears even though she managed to get script approval rights (very rare).

I'm sure we can think of many examples of
a) Terrible films nothing like book
b) "Good" films that destroy author's intention.
And few films that would have made an author happy.
Thank **** for that, Brian. I'll run scans just in case.
With the success of Game of Thrones and the upcoming Shannara series, maybe they wiki try again.
I'm too scared to watch the embedded vid. Being half way through reading the series, I don't want my mental images of the world polluted by someone else's imagining (Looking at you GoT!!!).

Heck, I even got annoyed that I couldn't find a copy of Fires of Heaven with the black cover/symbol and ended up with the cover with the artist's rendition.
Wheel of Time is too long for anything but a TV series. Thing is that TV series these days are very formula focused and whilst HOB has made some big strides a lot of studios still want a repetitive formula through the series with events at the start and finish.

The problem is a lot of series get butchered at various stages; even IF you can get a production made which is faithful and accurate it can still be butchered by the company that buys the rights to distribute it (apparently 30mins of Once Upon a Time in America was lost to the group that purchased cinema rights - a segment still mostly lost till today as different rights holders hold onto different bits of it and won't all agree to release for DVD). Heck if you read about anime and how it gets adapted to Western markets then chopping and changing the story; even adding bits from different series together and re-writing huge segments through choice scene selection and dubbing/subbing is done without remorse.

These days I feel that faithful is a very hard thing to get; most production groups just want the name and themes; they don't nor even make an effort at being faithful and will take things FAR outside of the original source material (well beyond the realms of "we did it to fit into a visual medium).
Susan Cooper was on the verge of suicide after the travesty of, "The Dark is Rising, " she was rescued by a backlash from three generations of readers.

I have to admit that I hate, "The Wheel of Time," even more than, "A Game of Thrones," so I'm hardly a neutral observer, but I think that making a worse TV series than the books would probably involve a major rewriting of the Laws of Thermodynamics.
"The Wheel of Time," even more than, "A Game of Thrones,"
Oh well, at least we don't have to read or watch either. That would be one weird totalitarian Government that enforced reading of them. Though I had to read some books for O - Level English Literature that I found an imposition.
I'd rate GOT as obnoxious due gratuitous violence detailed and WOT as increasingly tedious after Book 4, so couldn't compare them directly at all.
There is good reason to prefer your book to never be butchered on to the screen. Some books are succesfully translated but I think more are murdered by the process.
I didn't like WoT anywayto be fair, but that does look terrible.
I think the biggest problem is that narrators are unpopular in films in this day and age; fantasy can sometimes get away with one at the very beginning and end but otherwise not. Then you've the issue that a lot in a book happens behind a characters eyes; in their head. You get thoughts, feelings and insights that are very hard to translate in to a purely visual medium without doing "echo mind talk".