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The premium cable network has pulled the 10th episode of the drama from rotation on digital platforms — including HBO Go and iTunes — and halted all future shipments of its best-selling Season 1 DVD set, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
In addition, the dramatic end to the freshman season of the series adapted from George R.R. Martin‘s books will be edited for all future airings both domestically and internationally, according to a new statement from HBO, which further reprimanded showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
“We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” the network said Friday. “We made this clear to the executive producers of the series, who apologized immediately for this careless mistake. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and have halted all future shipments of the DVDs, removed it from our digital platforms and will edit the scene for all future airings on any distribution domestic or international.”
The controversy bubbled up Wednesday after Benioff and Weiss acknowledged that a scene depicted a model of the 43rd president’s severed head on a spike near the beginning of the genre show’s freshman-season finale in which King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) forces Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) to look at the decapitated head of her father (Sean Bean). Bush’s head is not completely visible, but the bottom half of his face isn’t hard to recognize.
The duo said in commentary included in the Game of Thrones DVD box set that the decision to use the model was motivated by budget and not by politics. “George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It’s not a choice, it’s not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around.”
HBO and the duo issued a pair of statements late Wednesday in which they apologized for the incident, citing budget constraints.
Update: HBO confirms the crucial episode will be returned to digital platforms after the scene is edited out. A timeline has yet to be determined.
Watch the scene in question below, the offending model is at about the 1:10 mark.
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