Top 50 Power Showrunners 2011
Weiss and Benioff were terrified that their bizarre, dragon-infested adaptation of George R.R. Martin's fantasy novel would be a cult show with a tiny audience. After early career promise in film (Benioff, 41, wrote Spike Lee's The 25th Hour and Troy; Weiss, 40, wrote the script for the game-turned-film project Halo), the longtime friends dragged their wives to Belfast, kickstarting a years-long process to make a show many thought too confusingly weird to survive. But Thrones beat Entourage and True Blood's first-season numbers, earned 13 Emmy noms -- and a win for supporting actor Peter Dinklage -- and became HBO's fifth-most-watched original series, just behind Sex and the City. "The sophistication of the TV audience has grown," says Weiss. "If you really pay attention, you'll follow it."