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HBO Boss Reveals Story Behind Greenlighting 'Game of Thrones' EW

While "Game of Thrones" is now a huge hit for HBO, the project was a gamble for the network, given that an adult fantasy television show had never succeeded before, reports James Hibberd on EW.com's Inside TV.

The story behind why the network greenlighted the project has more than a little to do with luck, the piece notes. In 2008, writers David Benioff and Dan Weiss turned in a pilot script, and HBO executives were debating the merits of the project, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo tells the publication.

"We had this pilot script and we were budgeting it and scratching our head whether we should go ahead and greenlight this,” Lombardo said. “And we were trying to figure out the production challenges. We knew it had to be able to stand next to projects in this genre being done on the big screen yet with a more limited budget.”

Lombardo decided to take a break and hit the gym, where, it turns out, both Benioff and Weiss also go to work out.

"And I see Dan on one of the bicycles,” Lombardo said. “He was reading this dog-eared copy of the first book. And it had underscores and yellow highlights [on the pages]. And he did not know I saw him -- I was standing on the side. And I thought, ‘We’re going to figure this out. These guys breathe this show in a way that doesn’t happen all the time.’"

Lombardo said he was "determined" to figure out the project after that.

As Hibberd writes, "The lesson: If you want to pull off an impossible creative accomplishment, it takes a ton of dedication, hard work and passion …

… and going to the same gym as HBO’s president doesn’t hurt either."