The Event, Season 1 - Jason Ritter
Season 1 - Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) © 2010 NBC Universal

How many producers does it take to helm a TV series? Quite a few when it’s NBC’s new epic The Event, a high-octane conspiracy thriller.

When Sean Walker’s (Jason Ritter) fiancée Leila (Sarah Roemer) disappears, his investigation into what happened to her begins to reveal the biggest cover-up in US history.

Creator/Co-Executive Producer Nick Wauters (The 4400), and Executive Producers Evan Katz (24), Jeffrey Reiner (Caprica) and Steve Stark (Medium) spoke with us about their new series which premiered, yesterday September 20th.

We don’t find out what The Event is in the first episode. Can you talk a little bit about how you’re going to handle doling out information and of maintaining the audience’s patience with you?

Evan Katz: We’re very cognizant of the audience’s patience, and of rewarding the audience. The show’s really designed to answer questions, to satisfy people, to keep them hooked, but yet keep posing questions. In the second episode, we very clearly answer the two largest questions in the pilot.

There’s a lot of time-shifting in the pilot, is that going to be a constant during the series?

The Event, Season 1 - Bill Smitrovich
Vice President Raymond Jarvis (Bill Smitrovich) © 2010 NBC Universal

Nick Wauters: It’s definitely something that we’re going to keep using, at least in the near future, as long as it serves character and story. But you may not see as much of it as we go along.

Evan Katz: Time will move forward from episode 2 on. It will be a more linear approach, and there will be flashbacks, but the story will continue to thrust forward.

Mr Katz, Jack Bauer’s not really dead but the corpse of the show is not even cold and you’ve moved on to another conspiracy thriller. Do you feel at all like you’re cheating on Jack, and do you feel The Event is the next 24?

Evan Katz: Well, I don’t feel we’re cheating on Jack, because if we did one more terrible thing to him, I think he would have just exploded.

I think there is definitely a style and pace of storytelling, surprises, twists, and intensity that is going to be present in the show. I think that’s largely why I wanted to do the show. This show will not be as dark. One of the things that I read about 24 is in the long run it got too forbidding, but yet faithful to Jack’s character.

The Event, Season 1 - Jason Ritter
Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) © 2010 NBC Universal

I like starting with Jason’s character, who is really an ordinary man, an innocent, and it will give us a much longer, hopefully many-season arc for him. But, yes, there will be that intensity. I think most importantly there’ll be that roller coaster (ride), and a visceral response to what you’re watching.

Jeffrey Reiner: But we’re also servicing a lot more characters. Our story is many different points-of-view, so where Jack Bauer is really the main thrust on 24, we’re telling the story through all these great characters.

How much information was given to the actors on this before they started?

Jeffrey Reiner: A lot of the show is what is waiting behind closed doors with these characters, so we try to keep them somewhat unaware of what’s gong to happen to them.

This is obviously coming right on the heels of Lost ending. A lot of people loved Lost, but they also felt fatigues by the end of the show. How do you convince those people to get sucked back into another very complicated, serialized story?

The Event, Season 1 - Sarah Roemer and Jason Ritter
Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer) and Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) © 2010 NBC Universal

Nick Wauters: I’ve been a big fan of 24 and Lost, and so that definitely influenced my writing. I’m very conscious of that, which is why we’re going to try and reveal as many answers as we can as we go, and then set up new mysteries. But you still have to go on faith that we know what we’re doing.

I came in with this bible. All the characters were really developed from the beginning, even though that’s not really shown in the pilot, because the pilot had so many things going on. The pilot is an invitation to the series. It’s an appetizer.

Going back to the Lost template, one of the reasons for that particular show’s success was the interactive development, the Web pages, getting fans involved in various ways that had nothing to do with the small screen. How important is that going to be for you?

Nick Wauters: I’m a major geek. So going into the show that was something that was very important to me, and I see it as an extension of the show in a way. I’ve been working very closely with NBC Digital to create and expand the world of the series. So people can watch the show without having to go online, but if you go online, you will get a lot more out of the experience.

Given that this is coming in the wake of V and The 4400, how quickly will we resolve whether Laura Innes’ character is from outer space or not?

The Event, Season 1 - Taylor Cole
Vicky Roberts (Taylor Cole) © 2010 NBC Universal

Nick Wauters: When I sat down to write the show, one of my main goals was to write a show that could keep the audience hungry but not frustrated. That’s one of the answers you’ll get in the second episode.

Evan Katz: All of these characters have secrets, and in large part, this show will be about peeling away those layers.

Heroes made a big deal out of the fact that they were going to reveal a lot, and they burned through a lot of plot very quickly. After season one, there was no more plot left to burn through. So how do you balance that?

Steve Stark: Before NBC bought the pilot, I think the bible that we developed was longer than the script. We were very clear where we were going. So we have tent-pole benchmarks that we’re going to hit as the series progresses into even season 3.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.