[07/25/08 - 01:45 PM]
Live at the San Diego Comic-Con: "The Visionaries: Showrunners"
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

Please note: As a courtesy, please do not reproduce these comments to newsgroups, forums or other online places. Links only please.

Entertainment Weekly's The Visionaries: Showrunners

The panel's description: "Carlton Cuse (Lost), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Josh Schwartz (Chuck, Gossip Girl), Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies), and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) are the television producers who are changing the face of television with deeply immersive entertainments marked by distinctive, cutting edge storytelling. They have also been at the forefront of bringing "genre programming" or "cult TV" to the mainstream. Prepare for a candid conversation about creative integrity in a commercial medium and the future of broadcast TV in an increasingly digital world. Spoiler Alert! Upcoming plot developments may be teased. Moderated by Entertainment Weekly senior writer Jeff Jensen."

1:46 PM: And the madness continues! Or not... once again the panel is running late.

1:50 PM: Hey it's Jeff Jensen, Josh Schwartz, Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Fuller and Josh Friedman!

1:54 PM: Jeff asks about the aftermath of the WGA strike. Bryan says there was some debate over whether or not to return in the fall or spring. In the end everyone decided it was best not to return against the "American Idol" juggernaut. As far as second two, Bryan says it will pick up 10 months later its de facto first season finale. They also won't do a "previously on..." segment but instead treat it as a relaunch.

1:56 PM: "Chuck" Josh echos Bryan's comments - no "previously on..." to start season two. They'll start with Chuck dangling off a roof.

1:57 PM: "Terminator" Josh conversely says they'll start two seconds after the last episode that aired (i.e. the explosion).

1:58 PM: Darlton requests that they can be referred to as "Terminator." "Terminator" Josh says only if they can trade paychecks. In any case, they reiterate their struggles in condensing the last wave of episodes.

1:59 PM: Bryan admits he and "Terminator" Josh or "lot buddies" at the Warner Bros. lot. When asked about the origins of "Pushing Daisies," Bryan confesses he just can't get into the negative headspace needed to do procedural crime dramas.

2:01 PM: Jeff asks about the ancillary material that's becoming more prevalent in TV shows. ("Terminator" Josh for instance is working on webisodes of "Sarah Connor.") Carlton notes that TV shows have become a brand nowadays so there's a need to expand the show beyond being just a TV show. "Chuck" Josh likewise is working on webisodes for the show - all of which will revolve the supporting characters and their "Buy More" antics. Damon says their inspiration to do the extra content is for the diehard fans. Paraphrased, "The average fan doesn't give a shit about when Jack first met Ethan, but you guys do." Bryan adds they considered doing webisode content around their newest cast member - no joke - a pig.

2:06 PM: Jeff brings up Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible" and wonders what this panel is thinking about doing in that space. "Joss invented the Whedonverse and we're all sort of following that," Damon admits. "I'm just in awe of the accomplishment of 'Dr. Horrible.'" "Terminator" Josh jokes that he doesn't think "Terminator" is applicable to other formats - like movies - let alone musicals and such.

2:09 PM: Carlton notes that he and Damon view "Lost" as a character show first and a mythology show second. "Terminator" Josh adds that the mythology on their show is called "the rabbit hole" due to how when they discuss it in the writers' room, they lose hours and hours of time with nothing to show for it. Bryan on the flip side says "he lives for that shit."

2:13 PM: Damon adds that while a "genre" stigma is considered bad, it always seems to be "genre" shows that people buzz about. This year with "Fringe" being no exception. Movies as well, "Iron Man," "Indy," etc.

2:15 PM: Bryan admits there's a fine line to walk in building mythology though, his example being "midichrolines" (sp?) in "Star Wars." There are some things that are best left mysterious. In other words, we probably won't learn why Ned can do what he do.

2:16 PM: Damon says comics informed his storytelling technique, "Watchmen" in particular with its serialization, cliffhangers, flashbacks and so on. "I just watch TV," "Terminator" Josh quips.

2:18 PM: Audience Q&A time. Everyone jokes on the panel that these will all be "Lost" questions.

2:20 PM: Carlton notes that it took five weeks to break the episode "The Constant," whereas most episodes take two weeks. Damon adds that it's almost impossible to explain to someone that episode's plot without sounding ridiculous.

2:22 PM: A fan asks which departed "Lost" cast member do they miss the most. "Mischa Barton," "Chuck" Josh quips. Darlton confess it's Mr. Echo for sure. Bryan asks, "What about Shannon?"

2:23 PM: "I was thrilled with the 12 nominations," Bryan says when asked about genre television's general lack of presence in the Emmys. He notes that "Battlestar Galactica" was more than deserving.

2:24 PM: For you comic fans: Damon says there will be announcement tomorrow about when we'll finally see the rest of his "Ultimate Wolverine/Hulk" series.

2:25 PM: Darlton says this year's "Lost" ARG will be "all real." Whatever that means.

2:26 PM: More "Lost" questions, much to the rest of the panel's chagrin.

2:28 PM: "It's always a negotiation," Bryan says about how they as creators deal with the networks and studios. And sometimes they are tense and sometimes they are easy. "Terminator" Josh notes they get very little pushback from FOX, and it's mostly over clarity about what's happening.

2:32 PM: "Terminator" Josh gives a shout-out to Shirley Manson, who's sitting in the front row. When asked about casting, he likens it to when you lose your keys - you panic you can't find them, but then out of nowhere they appear. He adds that the casting of Brian Austin Green as an unlikely action hero has made him look like a genius.

2:36 PM: "Death is just the punctuation to everything's that's come before," Bryan profoundly notes about his show. He goes on to talk about the show's concept being rooted with his old show "Dead Like Me." (We talked to him previously about this - I'll post the link later - so I won't dwell on it.)

2:38 PM: Carlton says "Lost's" spin on time travel is that there are no paradoxes - what you see actually happens and can't be changed.

2:39 PM: "Terminator" Josh notes he and the writers feel a great responsibility to live up to the pioneering aspect of the franchise.

2:42 PM: Bryan notes they always aim for a 16:9 format when filming - he wants it to look like a feature. The others echo his comments.

2:43 PM: Last question. A fan asks the age old question about whether Darlton is making it up as they go along or not. "Up until the third season, it was a little bit of both," Damon says. Now that they have an end date, they can follow through on their plans.

2:46 PM: Jeff asks what the panel's favorite show is besides their own. "Lost!" everyone non-Darlton shouts. "Project Runway," Bryan adds. Carlton says his son just told him on the drive down that "The O.C. was the best season on TV ever, no offense, dad." Damon adds he loves "Dexter."

2:47 PM: That's it - see you in a few hours for "24!"

Note: My apologies for the lackluster picture quality - the lighting in room 6CDEF makes it impossible to get a decent shot without moving directly in front of the panel.

Josh Schwartz, Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Fuller, Josh Friedman

Josh Schwartz, Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Fuller, Josh Friedman

  [july 2008]  


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