U.S. cable network HBO apologized this week after Internet users spotted a replica of former President George W. Bush's head in an episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, shown severed and impaled on a pike.
The former president's likeness was first spotted by commenters on Reddit.com, who noted that the show's writers actually acknowledged its presence on audio commentary included with the Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season DVD. His face is not completely visible, and set designers placed a scraggly wig on top of the head, which appears at the beginning of the first season's final episode.
"George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes," producer David Benioff and writer D.B. Weiss explain on the disc's commentary track. "It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around."
That provoked an angry response from Brooklyn Republican Party chairman Craig Eaton, who told E! Online: "Americans of all political persuasions should stand up and demand that things like this should not continue. They should boycott watching this particular show... It doesn't matter what their intent is. They didn't intend it to be political, but now that it is, they should remove it."
Both Benioff and Weiss were backpedaling by Wednesday, issuing a statement declaring their remorse.
"We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc.," they said in prepared text. "We can't afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise."
HBO, similarly, was quick to apologize.
"We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste," the network said in prepared text. "We made this clear to the executive producers of the series, who apologized immediately for this inadvertent, careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production."