NEW SERIES REVIEWS
10/31/09 - Original creator
Kenny Johnson happy with remake, says
"'V' voice revisits familiar turf.
Whether ABC's frosh
drama "V" succeeds or fails, Kenny Johnson
is just happy to see the show back on the
pop culture radar.
Johnson has technically nothing to do
with the new sci-fi drama, which bows this
week and comes from exec producers Scott
Peters, Jeffrey Bell, Steve Pearlman and
But as the creator of the original "V"
miniseries in 1983, Johnson knows interest
in the new "V" will also spur nostalgia for
his original. And Johnson, who didn't retain
TV rights to the title, still has big
feature plans for his own "V" remake.
"If the show succeeds, it gives us an
opportunity to go out with a one sheet that
says, 'You like the show, now see the
original classic reborn,' " Johnson says.
"And if the show doesn't do well, we can
always say, 'Here is the "V" you've been
waiting for.' "
"V" reps the latest franchise reborn from
a Kenneth Johnson Prods. creation. The
scribe has watched in recent years as many
of his old smallscreen creations have been
given new life, but without his involvement.
Johnson was behind several smallscreen
titles that remain iconic TV touchstones:
"The Bionic Woman," "The Incredible Hulk,"
"V" and "Alien Nation" (which Johnson
adapted from a previous feature).
"Someone pointed out to me that I was now
four for four," Johnson says. "It's
flattering, wonderful to know that things
I've created have staying power."
The first two
however, have so
far missed the
mark, while the
jury's still out
on the other
Syfy is plotting
another take on
which bows Nov.
3 and will run
for four weeks
in the spring.
Among all his
Johnson says he
"Of all the
emails I get,
'V' is head and
the rest," he
says. "So many
people tell me
they first saw
'V' when they
were 10 or 12
and they loved
the action, the
they saw it
there was so
much more going
on there than
around a fascist
takeover of the
the first draft,
he told Johnson
he didn't think
decision to make
it about alien
"What it was
really about was
power and people
in power," he
funny, when you
go back and look
at my original
there are a lot
originally was I
couldn't make it
look the way I
wanted it to
look. We didn't
have the money
or even the
lizards and the
play a role in
the updated "V."
his credit on
the revival went
feared that he
out of the
Warner Bros. TV
says there was a
-- claiming the
plan was to
simply make sure
avoid a skirmish
down the road).
Guild opted to
give Johnson a
to have moved
"None of us
would be here
Johnson, who did
the original 'V'
says. "So we owe
a lot to him. In
that vein, we
wanted to make
sure as we moved
forward that we
made sure that
we honored and
the themes that
tried not to
step on those
brand new themes
that would make
sense in a
So it's really
an honor to be
able to take the
We're hoping to
bring a whole
new set of fans
as well as the
still prove to
be a slight
Warner Bros. TV,
as he pushes
ahead with a
project for the
I controlled the
rights to 'V,' I
suddenly had a
lot of new best
"All the major
to buy the
rights with a
whole lot of
money. They see
it as a $200
want to bring
someone else to
direct. I took a
deep breath and
new life without
letting "V" go.
"I got into
the business to
direct and do
what I do,"
"So what we've
to do is to set
movie for $50
million. So I
can hang on to
reins and make
sure it gets
viewers might be
two separate "V"
the same time.
He notes that
"Star Trek" has
on TV and in
film at the same
time -- ditto "Smallville"
on TV and
wish Jace Hall
and Scott Peters
well on their
of me and my
also eager to
revisit "V" the
way he wanted to
sense that not
only do I know
the themes, but
because I've had
that one on one
over the years,"
he says. "I
to them and have
got a pretty
good sense of
how to make 'V'
V producer on who might return and other homages - SciFi Wire
by Patrick Lee on August 11, 2009
Peters, executive producer of ABC's upcoming V series, confirmed
that producers have spoken with Jane Badler, the actress who memorably
played the evil alien leader Diana in Kenneth Johnson's original V
miniseries, on which the new show is based, about possibly playing a
role in the new series.
Badler has approached our producers and has been in touch here and
there," Peters (The 4400) said in an exclusive interview over the
weekend at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in
one of the original cast members whom the producers are considering
putting in the new show as an homage and tip of the hat, Peters said.
"And I haven't had a chance to actually sit down or talk to anybody face
to face, but I would love to," Peters said about the original stars, who
and Faye Grant. "And as we move forward in the writers' room, ... we're
just getting up on our ... feet. We start shooting Monday [Aug. 10], and
so once we sort of get that first one under our belts, I think we'll be
able to take a bit of a sigh of relief and really sort of look a little
bit more broad stroke, a little bit more big picture. ... I don't want
somebody to just walk by in the background and then feature them for a
second. ... I want to find a really interesting role for somebody."
might include role that are 180 degrees different from the parts they
played in the 1983 miniseries. "Yeah," Peters said. "I mean, just
somebody who can come in, and ... it's either a really ironic role for
them, based on what their old role was, or just something really fun or
interesting. I want them to have fun doing it. I want the fans to be
excited about it. And I think it's just a fun thing to be able to tip
your hat to the old show."
V is a re-imagining of the original miniseries, about the world's
first encounter with an alien race, in which the aliens call themselves
the Visitors and have a seemingly friendly agenda that may or may not be
a cover for something more malevolent. The new show stars Elizabeth
Mitchell as Erica Evans, Morris Chestnut as Ryan Nichols, Joel Gretsch
as Father Jack Landry, Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens, Logan
Huffman as Tyler Evans and Laura Vandervoort as Lisa, with Morena
Baccarin as Anna and Scott Wolf as Chad Decker.
also promised that the new series will nod to the original in other ways
as well, though it tells a new story in the present day with new
characters and new situations. (Possible spoilers ahead!)
we would audition actors or bring writers in to ... interviews, ... we
would ask, 'What do you remember of the show? What's like the big
[thing]?' And the big things were the huge ships, the red uniforms, ...
eating the hamster and [the] alien baby. You know, universally, that was
what everyone came up with. It was like our top four or five. So
definitely, we are well aware of those moments and looking to put our
own little spin on them to tip our hat to the old audience."
about the famous reveal of the Visitor's face ripped away to reveal that
the other one, of course," he said, adding: "We tried to put our own
[spin on it]. We're ... a little bit different than their execution of
it. It wasn't so much latex mask as it is real flesh and blood."
Logan Huffman is Tyler Evans of ABC's V, Associated
Content by Marissa Plains on August 10, 2009
ABC Executives Sound Coy About New TV Series's Political Edge,
Washington Post by Lisa de Moraes on August 10, 2009
Almost as if Lou Dobbs had taken over the
network, ABC plans to debut a series in the
fall about aliens who come to Earth
promising "hope," "change" and universal
health care, but who actually want to
infiltrate our government and our businesses
and, to that end, have rallied the country's
youth behind their nefarious campaign.
Morena Baccarin plays the good-looking,
seductively charismatic leader of the
so-called Visitors, one remarkably
knowledgeable about human culture and media
The series is called "V" and it's a
re-envisioning of an old miniseries of same
Baccarin acknowledged she had modeled her
alien character after politicians, saying:
"I am trying my best [in the role] to be as
trustworthy as I can be and to embody what
everybody of every nationality and need
wants to see. At the same time, you have
your own agenda."
Oh, and "V" is debuting on Nov. 3 -- the
first Tuesday after the first Monday in
November, a.k.a. the one-year anniversary of
Barack Obama being elected the 44th
president of the United States, which will
be front and center on all the cable news
networks, the broadcast TV networks'
newscasts, the front pages of newspapers,
magazine covers and pretty much otherwise on
This was not lost on some of the TV critics
attending Summer TV Press Tour 2009,
especially those who knew the original "V"
was seen as a political allegory. In that
case, it was widely perceived as a thinly
veiled portrait of fascism.
"Some of the words in the pilot associated
with the Visitors' agenda are 'hope' and
'change' and 'universal health care,' " one
critic noted. "So, was that intentional, or
are you just freakishly prescient?"
"Freakishly prescient," replied executive
producer Scott Peters, though not blithely
-- not with any real zippiness. Many in the
room did not seem to buy it, except maybe
"V" heroine Elizabeth Mitchell, who
responded, "Wow!" as if it was the first she
was hearing about this.
The critic wanted more.
"We are not looking to put any sort of
agenda onto the table but," Peters said,
spinning madly, "you know, I wake up in the
morning and you look at the news and you see
there's wars; there's new diseases being
discovered; there's old diseases that we are
still dealing with. The economy is in the
toilet; there are people losing their homes.
Wouldn't it be awesome if 29 ships showed up
and they all said, 'We've got this. We'll
take care of you. Don't worry about it'?
The Cast and Crew of ABC's "V" Face the Press - by Jace on August
fans may want to hold onto their hats (or whatever else is nearby) as
ABC announced that the series will now launch on Tuesday, November 3rd
at 8 pm ET/PT on ABC rather than in midseason. (The news
echoes comments made by executive producer Scott Peters to me at
ABC announced the change in scheduling at the Television Critics
Association Summer Press Tour session for
V, which featured cast members
Elizabeth Mitchell, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Lourdes Benedicto,
Morena Baccarin, and Scott Wolf and executive producers Scott Peters and
Jeffrey Bell. Or rather the cast of the alien invasion drama announced
it... in unison, no less.
So what else did the cast and crew have to say about their upcoming
first season? Let's discuss.
Executive producer Scott Peters was asked right off
the bat about the fact that so many of V's cast members have appeared on
a slew of genre series before getting cast in this project and whether
that was an intentional, calculated move.
"We're trying to get every single, science fiction fan who's ever lived
to come and watch our show," joked Peters. "No, we obviously went for
the best actors we could possibly find, and as we went through this,
we're, like, "Oh, hey, somebody from
The 4400 and Serenity and
Lost. Listen, we love our cast.
They're wonderful. They're really not very attractive people, as you can
see. (Laughs.) But it's a nice bonus that a lot of folks have appeared
in genre shows in the past, but it was not designed that way."
So how different is this incarnation of
V from the one that came before?
"None of us would be here without Ken Johnson, who did the original
V miniseries, which was
obviously a phenomenal success," responded Peters. "So we owe a lot to
him. In that vein, we wanted to make sure as we moved forward that we
made sure that we honored and respected the characters and the themes
that that show envisioned and tried not to step on those and introduced
brand new characters and brand new themes that would make sense in a
post-9/11 world. So it's really an honor to be able to take the story
forward. We're hoping to bring a whole new set of fans as well as the
folks who watched it originally."
One of the major changes to the new V series is that the reveal that the
aliens are actually scaly-faced reptilian creatures underneath the
human-looking skin comes quite early and is handled with a minimum of
a-ha trickery. Which was the intent, said Peters.
"I think there was an obvious huge awareness of the original," he said.
"There are a lot of people who haven't seen it, but by the time we get
to air, we feel like this is not the big surprise that everyone is going
to gasp over. We really want to contain [telling] that story that is
sort of already known out there so that we can leap forward in very
quick manner so that we don't sort of build and build and build to
something that people already know. Hopefully, we do it in an artful way
and in a twist-filled way that will make folks who haven't seen the show
before jump a little bit. Our cast jumped, which was awesome. (Laughs)
And really try to bring a new audience to it as well."
Elizabeth Mitchell said that she watched the original series on
television when she was a child. "I did watch the show when I was a
kid," she said. "I think I was about 13. I was allowed to watch an hour
of television with my parents. I really liked it. I liked the escape of
it, and I liked the entertainment of it. It was a fun night for me. We
kind of made a celebration of it, and I hope that other teenagers will
do that with their parents. It's something that kids don't do as much
anymore. Oh, my God, I sound like I'm 80. (Laughs.) But, yes, I did
watch it back in the day."
Morena Baccarin was asked about her performance as Anna, the face of the
Visitors, which one critic described as "every kind of a sweet-faced PR
person for a seedy cigarette company."
"I have big shoes to fill as being, I guess, the face of what people
want to see, and there's kind of no way to prepare on how to play an
alien," said Baccarin. "I did some research, but there's not a lot out
there. So, you know, I think I just am trying my best to be as
trustworthy as I can be and to be what I would like somebody to be like
if they were to come down to Earth, and I think there's an aspect of
politicians in that because you need to embody what everybody of every
nationality and need wants to see and at the same time you have your own
Scott Wolf, who plays ambitious journalist Chad Decker, said that he
appreciated that critics saw a shading of a legitmate journalist in his
"I appreciate you seeing the legitimate journalist in him; I see that as
well," said Wolf. "I think he's a guy who's had success doing what he's
doing, but he sees himself a lot further along than he's been able to
get thus far. But amongst all the different themes that our producers
and writers are dealing with, one of them is integrity versus ambition,
and this guy's an incredibly ambitious guy, but there's also a sense of
wanting to be a great journalist and be a voice for people so that when
spaceships descend over the major cities of the world, he wants people
to think, "What is Chad Decker saying about this?" So I think part of
the fun of seeing how the character develops will be that relationship
between his ambition and his journalistic integrity and which one wins
Jeffrey Bell said that the shadow of 9/11 definitely casts its spell
over V and was a major influence
on the tone of the revival, which is very different from the original.
"I think it's quite a bit different, and in terms re-imagining the
original series," said Bell. "The original series, to me, felt very much
like a military show almost. It was a resistance and gun fights, and
there was a very clear and present enemy. They wore uniforms, and it was
the Cold War. It was the Nazis, whoever it was. And post-9/11, that's
not who our enemy is anymore. There is no other single threat. It's
terrorists, and it's the guy across the street or the woman next door,
and who do you trust? And I think one of the things we're trying to do
is we have humans who are traitors, and we have Visitors who have a
nefarious agenda, and we have Visitors who are heroes."
"And so not knowing who or what someone is and playing the paranoia that
we all experience living in a world where we wake up every day and
everything is at an orange alert," he continued, "I think the way we're
trying to do it is, first off, not be a military show in terms [that]
we're not a country at war the way we have [been] in the past, but we
are a country very much fractured and struggling with all these issues.
I think we've tried to tell stories that regular people -- moms and FBI
agents and teenagers -- keeping them in their lives, have to figure out
what they're supposed to do.
"Honestly, I'm fascinated by stories that there's a huge over-arching
event," said Peters, "that there's a huge universal something that has
touched everybody, and how does that affect a priest and an FBI agent
and a teenager and a financier and this common thread that runs through
all these very different stories. And they all start with very different
storylines, which gives us the chance to allow these characters to cross
in really unexpected ways and come together, pull apart, and those are
just really interesting stories to tell, I think."
So, will Morena Baccarin's Anna eat a rat as the original's Diana did so
"Whenever we talk to people who saw the original and they [say], 'Oh, my
God. I love the original," we go, "What do you love?" And they mention
about four or five things, and the rat, guinea pig, bunny, mouse [is up
there]," said Bell. "We get a lot of takes on it, but that's one of the
things that everyone mentions, and we would be morons if we didn't find
a way in the series to pay homage [to it.]"
"You found like the prettiest girl you could possibly find," Mitchell
chimed in, "and you're going to make her eat a rodent!"
"We asked her if she had any problems with rodents," said Peters, "and
she said, "No." That was her fault."
"I don't mind holding them,"
"That was before she got the
part," joked Morris Chestnut. "Now she cares about it."
"Actors getting a part will say anything," joked Mitchell.
"We're going to say, we want to find a way to do it, but if we just had
her do exactly what happened in the original," said Bell in all
seriousness, "been there, done that."
"There are other iconic moments certainly within the original that we
will find our way of paying homage to," added Peters.
As for Alan Tudyk, who guest stars in the pilot as the partner of FBI
Agent Erica Evans (Mitchell), the producers said that he'll be back on
the series in some capacity. (Mitchell herself said of Tudyk: "I love
him. I want him, love him.)
As for the Visitors' motives in the revival series, don't expect it to
be the same as the one in the original, which was basically: steal our
water and eat us for dinner.
"It would not be the same as what it was because, again, that's been
done," said Bell.
Still, if producers get their wish, actors from the original
V could turn up in the revival
series, much in the same way that Richard Hatch joined the cast of
Battlestar Galactica as a new
"I personally like that idea," said Peters. "We talk about it a little
bit in the writers' room and we'll obviously develop that as we go
forward. But I think it's fun for the fans. I think it's fun just to see
those actors show up... It wouldn't be in the same roles, but it would
be sort of at an unexpected moment in, perhaps, an unexpected role that
would be a little bit of a tip of the hat to the old fans. You know, I
think everybody is fair game, but we'll certainly develop that as we
move forward. I love the idea, personally."
Peters and Bell said that they have firm plans for the series in terms
of overarching storylines and plots.
"The original [V] was conceived as a miniseries," said Bell. "So
it was built that way. And knowing that we are built for longer, we've
structured the end that way. We've set up the first season so, by the
end of the first season, you know what the Visitors' agenda is and sort
of where characters end up, on which side of the line they will be by
the end of first season."
"That would be our first chunk," he continued. "And then the second
season, beginning there, we have a whole different arc again, but we are
very much interested in keeping our characters in their own lives. He's
going to stay at the church. She's going to stay with the FBI. Chad is
going to be a journalist. Ryan is going to be the finance guy he is. And
Val is a therapist. Everybody is going to stay in their lives because we
think it's more interesting for people watching the show to see someone
more like themselves versus 'we are now on the run from an invading
army,' and I think we are different that way as well."
Some of the themes of the V
pilot--such as the emphasis on universal health care might seem, as
Peters put it "freakishly prescient," but Peters said that the series
has been in development for quite some time now.
"Because of the Writers' Guild strike, this show has been in development
for a long time," he said. "We are not looking to put any sort of agenda
onto the table, but I wake up in the morning and you look at the news,
and you see there's wars, there's new diseases being discovered, there's
old diseases that we are dealing with. The economy is in the toilet.
There are people losing their homes. Wouldn't it be awesome if 29 ships
showed up and they all said, 'We've got this. We'll take care of you.
Don't worry about it'? Wouldn't this be great? And so, I mean, that's
really where hope and change came from. Joel [Gretsch] has a line in the
pilot that says, "The world is in bad shape, Father. Who wouldn't
welcome a savior?" And I think that's a pretty interesting thesis
statement. So that's kind of where this whole thing sort of came from.
And, listen, I think that shows are open to interpretation. People bring
subjective thoughts to it. And if you want to ascribe those words to the
Visitors or to whatever is going on in our society, that's sort of up to
the viewer, but there's no particular agenda to hone in on those
Asked to clarify Bell's statement, Peters later said: "I think that if
you are bringing something to a show and watching it, looking for
something in it, you can find it whether you are on one side of the
political spectrum or the other. The main theme of the show is dealing
with blind devotion, and I think that you can sort of look at that in
two different ways. People will bring to it what they bring to it, and I
think it's our job as storytellers to put some provocative things out
there and leave things open to interpretation to really bring an
audience to it and really be compelled by it. And if one group wants to
claim it as their show and another group wants to claim it as their
show, that's their prerogative."
"Look, there are always going to be people who will look for agendas in
everything," countered Bell. "This show was conceived during the Bush
administration. It got executed in an Obama administration. There are
people on either sides of the aisle who can find things. You can say,
'Yeah, look how stupid these people are for following blindly and
believing everything the government is saying,' and you can have people
who are upset about that. And you can have other people saying, 'Look at
these people who are promising everything at no cost, and look, they are
leading them to their own doom.' And so, for us, both sides have
strengths and weaknesses. Let's get people to
show up and watch it and talk about it. But to try to tie it to the
birthers or anything is kind of ridiculous."
However, the emphasis this time around is certainly not on a metaphor
for the rise of Fascism as in the original, said producers.
"The fear at the time was Fascism," explained Bell. "It was Communism.
That was the fear, and that's not the fear now. And we are talking about
the metaphors and allegories here, and at a certain level, I just want
to remind people it's a show about spaceships on ABC at 8 pm.. And I
mean that seriously in that there's this wish fulfillment element of it.
And so if everything came true, you would be really excited, and then if
it started to turn or you were one of the two or three people who seemed
crazy because you knew more about it than anybody else or you didn't
believe it, we are really interested on almost a personal level. What
does a mom do? What does a priest do? What does a kid do? And how this
works politically is fun for people to talk about, but as we are
breaking the stories, we are really looking to tell really exciting,
entertaining, emotional stories that these guys can do what they do
"When we originally conceived the show, I opened up and broadened the
theme to be about blind devotion," Peters chimed in. "What happens when
you don't ask questions about the things you believe in? And I think
that can be applied across the board whether you are talking about a
political issue or a religious issue or a relationship issue, any number
of things. And so, to me, that was what was really an interesting place
to look into to deal with themes across many different storylines."
Do the producers feel any pressure to make V overloaded with the
sort of mythology-based mysteries and complexities of fellow ABC drama
"Sure," admitted Bell. "I think what's different about telling this
story now is there are people are live-blogging and die-hard fans who
are freezing frames and TiVo-ing and finding Easter eggs to see what
happened on Lost or
Battlestar or any other awesome
shows out there, and so it's our job to build those in for those people
but to keep the story simple and clean enough that people who just show
up at 8 pm can just enjoy watching the show. But we are aware of both,
and we are doing our best to balance that."
Back in May at the Upfronts, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson
said that V is being conceived
as series with a four-year storyline. Is that still valid?
"We're looking at this first chunk as we've got it all mapped out," said
Peters. "In fact, before the show was sold, there was a pretty solid
direction to everything. And so Jeff came aboard, and we talked more
about it. And as things developed, we certainly know where we are going
the first season. We know where we are going the second season. We have
a pretty solid plan all the way through. I did a show previous to this
that was very serialized, and it helped a lot to know exactly where you
were going so that you weren't making it up as you were going along
because that just is too painful, and we spent time too many nights
"We know what the end is," added Bell. "We know where we are going. And
whether that's three years or four years or beyond that, you know, look,
it's gravy. But there is a plan, and we will stick to that."
So what does V's original
creator, Kenneth Johnson, think about this new incarnation?
"I had a meeting with Ken at the very beginning," said Peters. "We sat
down and got a chance to meet him. I was very happy to meet him. And one
of the other executive producers, Jace Hall, has been in close contact
with him throughout this project, and he wishes us well, which is great.
This is, as I was saying earlier, a brand-new take on the show. As I
said, we want to pay lots of honor and salute to him for starting this
whole thing. And so he wishes us well, and we thank him for that."
Still, the notion of propaganda as an invasion tool seems to apply to
both versions of V.
"Yeah," said Bell. "And in a sense, the interesting thing to us is
propaganda has just become advertising, and everything is branded, and
everything is turned into a product. And so the V's are going to do
that. The V's are going to brand themselves. The V's are going to
advertise and promote, and we are all going to want to love the V's."
For Mitchell, V is the opportunity to play a character very
different than the ones she's played thus far in her career.
"I'm always surprised, always grateful, and always giggling a little
bit," said Mitchell about getting to play a full-out hero. "So I hope to
continue to feel that way. I loved my role on
Lost. I thought it was
incredibly rich, and I enjoyed every minute of playing it. And I really
thought I was going to take a break in between doing that and doing this
and doing the bit of Lost that I
had left. And I have to say that my manager called and said that Morris
[Chestnut] had read the V script
and that he really liked it. So I thought, 'Well, if he liked it, then I
should read it.' So I read it, and I really did fall in love with the
character. And I called over one of my best friends, and I had her read
it, and she also fell in love with the character."
"I like playing a traditional hero," continued Mitchell. "I don't think
I've ever done it before, and I think it's big shoes to fill because
we've had some amazing heroes. I did a panel with Sigourney Weaver, and
she said she always chooses male roles because she felt like they are
meatier. But this indeed started out as a woman in this incarnation, and
then, in the previous one, I believe it was a man. So I'm incredibly
excited, and I do feel like it's a lot, and I'm hoping to step up to it.
V is working with special effect house Zoic--who provided special
effects for Firefly--and producers said that they will be keeping
up the same level of technical wizardry seen in the pilot episode.
"We were very, very conscious of this as we moved forward," said Peters.
"We didn't want to be able to sort of promise something we couldn't
deliver every week. And we are sort of on the cutting edge of some
really interesting technology in terms of how we present the entry of
the spaceship, for instance. We are able to actually shoot all of that
on a green screen. And the spaceship is built in a virtual world, and it
allows us to collect assets. In other words, we can build these
enormous-looking sets in a computer. We can go back to them. We can
reconfigure them. We can pop a camera into the virtual set and turn it a
different direction and see something that looks like a very different
place that we've never seen before. So that gives us the creative
ability to really expand upon that so that we aren't leaving everybody
in the dark in terms of really wowing everyone on a weekly basis, and
that's really what we are striving for. But, obviously, first it's a
character-driven show, and we need to deliver that first and foremost.
The visual effects and all of the fun eye candy is frosting on the cake
but really important frosting."
"We are visiting the ship every episode," he continued. "We are seeing
ships in the sky every episode. We shoot in Vancouver, so we have to
make Vancouver look like New York. So things that don't look like
visual-effect shots are actually visual-effect shots. We are
well-stocked and well aware of what we have to accomplish every week.
Veteran TV Stars Find New Forums on ABC - by Gary
Levin and Robert Bianco on August 10, 2009
PASADENA, Calif. -- Familiar
faces and their fall offerings
on ABC dominated the final day
of the semiannual gathering of
TV writers Saturday.
*Courteney Cox. Her fall comedy
might raise some hackles with
its provocative title: Cougar
Town, in which she stars as a
newly divorced fortysomething
mom looking for love in all the
young places. Is it realistic?
"I've been blazing that trail
for 10 years," Cox , 45, says of
her marriage to her Scream
co-star David Arquette, 37.
"Ultimately, it's still a sexist
and misogynistic world," says
creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs).
"It's weird that when Michael
Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow do a
movie, it's fine, but when Ryan
Reynolds and Sandra Bullock do a
movie, 100 reviews use the word
'cougar.' " (Cox's Friends
co-star Jennifer Aniston just
announced plans for a
similar-themed film, Pumas,
apparently a slightly younger
breed of cougar.)
Still, Lawrence promises the
title is more hook than premise.
"If this show every week is
about what young guy is
Courteney going to sleep with,
that's the Samantha character
from Sex and the City; that's
not the show."
*Elizabeth Mitchell. ABC's
remake of the '70s NBC sci-fi
invasion series V, which was
moved up from a midseason
premiere to Nov. 3 and a Tuesday
8 ET/PT slot, stars Lost's
Mitchell (Juliet) as an FBI
agent whose son is drawn to the
aliens. Scott Wolf is an
ambitious journalist looking for
a career boost from their
presence, and Morena Baccarin is
Anna, their charismatic public
face, whose own face conceals a
For Lost fans wondering whether
this means Juliet was vaporized
by the bomb in last season's
finale, Mitchell says, "I will
be (back) on Lost. I am going to
be traveling to Hawaii (where
the series films) more than
once; we'll see how that plays
out. I can't say whether I'm
dead or not, but as with all
things on Lost, it will be
As for V, the remake blurs the
lines between humans and the
aliens who land on Earth as
"visitors." "We have humans, and
we have humans who are traitors;
we have visitors who have
nefarious agendas, and we have
visitors who are heroes," says
executive producer Jeffrey Bell.
But by the end of the first
13-episode season, he promises
that viewers will learn the
aliens' motives and will draw
the lines between aliens, their
sympathizers and a resistance
*Kelsey Grammer. The timely
subject of downsizing is the
premise for Hank, the Frasier
star's new comedy. In his
short-lived Back to You, he was
an egotistical news anchor. Here
he's an entitled Manhattan CEO
forced to set his sights lower
and move back to small-town
Virginia after running his
company into the ground.
It's not all hopeless: Grammer's
Hank Pryor has a plucky attitude
about his change of fortune.
Hank is "far less complicated
than some of the pompous people"
he's played, Grammer says.
Still, his family is having
trouble adjusting to their new
life: "We're all a little
spoiled and not accustomed to
taking care of ourselves."
"We will be touching on this
riches-to-rags thing," says
executive producer Tucker Cawley
(Everybody Loves Raymond). "But
Kelsey's character doesn't look
on this as something you should
feel sorry for. It's more of an
old-fashioned American optimism
in which he views the world."
*Patricia Heaton. While other
networks seem to have given up
on comedy, ABC is stocking
Wednesdays with new offerings.
Besides Hank and Cougar Town,
there's Modern Family, which
stars Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler
Ferguson and follows three
couples linked by a family bond;
and The Middle, with Heaton as a
harried heartland wife and mom
struggling to raise a family.
Heaton, who has three kids on
the show, has four in real life
-- and like her character, she's
raising them without paid help.
"You can see me at Ralph's and
Pavilion three times a week over
at Vine or Melrose. ... I buy my
sweat clothes in the boy's
section at Target, and that's
what I wear. And I often wear it
three days in a row."
It also helps, Heaton says, that
she's from Ohio herself and can
relate to the character's
Midwestern roots. Plus, it's a
place and a story she wants to
see on TV. "There's nothing on
that deals with Midwestern
people, with the struggle with
the economy, but in a funny way,
in a celebratory way." (c)
Copyright 2009 USA TODAY, a
division of Gannett Co. Inc.
From The TCA Press Tour
- August 8, 2009
The V panel at the Television Critics Association's
press tour was held this afternoon, and in attendance
were Joel Gretsch (Father Jack), Morena Baccarin (Anna),
Morris Chestnut (Ryan), Elizabeth Mitchell (Erica),
Scott Wolf (Chad), Lourdes Benedicto (Valerie), and
executive producers Scott Peters and Jeffrey Bell. Here
are some details we were able to gleam from some folks
who were lucky enough to be there (including our friends
at TV Guide Magazine):
After showing a "sizzle reel" of clips from the pilot,
Scott Peters began by saying "None of us would be here
without Ken Johnson." He adds: "It's an honor to move
the story forward."
Elizabeth Mitchell has revealed she will be traveling
back to Hawaii "more than once," which implies her time
with LOST is not yet over.
Jeffrey Bell hints that there will be some sort of
homage to the rat-eating from the original V, and that
there are other iconic moments from the original that
there will also be homages to. Scott Peters says some
actors from the original V may show up in new roles, and
we will be seeing more of Alan Tudyk after the pilot.
We will know the Visitors' agenda by the end of the
first season, and is NOT the same agenda the Visitors
had in the original series. Season 2 will have a
completely new arc. Arcs are mapped out already for the
first 1-2 seasons. Elizabeth Mitchell joked that the
Visitors brought down the Oceanic 815.
likes to complain about how there are so few new ideas in Hollywood
these days, that studios are churning out remakes by the bushel. And
sure, there’s some good stuff in the mix, but for every gem like
Battlestar Galactica you’ve got four or five stinkers like
Bionic Woman or
on the hour-long pilot
screened at Comic-Con, the new reimagining of
V is off to a very
strong start. It’s not a new plot —
“visitors” arrive on Earth promising peace, but
secretly plan a subversive takeover — but there’s
enough new angles in this version of V to
keep things exciting and surprising. And it moves
along at a fast clip, setting up the premise of the
show while introducing the main characters, and it
wastes no time on anything nonessential. There are
some terrific special effects in the pilot, and I
can only hope the standard they set here is
Without giving too much away, when the Visitors
first arrive with their massive spaceships hovering
over 29 major cities around the world, it creates
quite the panic. (Yes, the show is fully aware of
its opening scenes’ resemblance to the movie
Independence Day, and even plays off of this at
times.) Until, that is, the people of Earth set eyes
on them for the first time, and find them to be
highly attractive and human-like in appearance. The
Visitors claim to be in need of natural mineral
resources that can be found on Earth, and in
exchange they will share their technology with us
until they have finished replenishing their own
supplies, at which time they will leave. But of
course not all is as it seems, starting with an FBI
investigation into a terrorist cell and ending with…
well, that would be telling. But ask yourself how
the Visitors would be able to immediately speak our
language, appear in pleasing human forms, and cure
many of our diseases if they have only just arrived.
One of the best parts of the show is seeing a lot of
in a whole new sandbox. Lost’s
Elizabeth Mitchell is arguably the
show’s lead as FBI agent Erica Evans, and her
steely-calm intensity is put to good use here.
Morena Baccarin stars as the
alien leader Anna, and she brings the same grace and
tranquility she displayed in Firefly, along
with a subtle, unsettling quality that lets you know
not quite all is as it seems on the surface. The
4400’s Joel Gretsch
takes an unexpected turn as a priest named Jack
Landry, a devout man of faith who immediately
suspects the Visitors of being less than honest
about their intentions. Party of Five’s
is perfectly cast as ambitious-but-righteous news
anchor Chad Decker, a man who unwittingly finds
himself caught between the Visitors and humanity.
And character actor
is Ryan Nichols, a man with a very mysterious past
who’s trying to leave it behind and create a new
life with his romantic partner. Smallville’s
Laura Vandervoort and
newcomer Logan Huffman
appear in supporting roles.
fun, fast ride, with a talented and appealing cast,
and a modern take on a familiar premise. I’m looking
forward to seeing it unfold. Watch for V to
debut sometime this November. A full video of the
brief Q&A panel that followed the screening is
First Episode of “V” Reboot Is Creepy and Intriguing by
on July 28th, 2009
weird, and genuinely scary, the premiere episode of new
ABC series “V” has us convinced that there’s life after
Battlestar Galactica. We saw the whole thing at
Comic-Con and have a spoiler-free report.
an early-1980s miniseries, “V” is about what happens
when dozens of gigantic alien ships arrive on Earth,
hovering over major cities. A beautiful woman alien
called Anna, played by Morena “Firefly” Baccarin,
broadcasts the visitors’ messages from an enormous
screen built into the bodies of the ships. She assures
the people of Earth that the aliens want only to harvest
chemicals from our waste products, which she says are
valuable to them. In exchange, they’ll share technology
with humans – especially medical technology, which
they’ll set up in thousands of free clinics across the
only ones who doubt the good intentions of these
preternaturally beautiful aliens are DHS agent Erica
Evans and Catholic priest Jack Landry (played by
4400 alum Joel Gretsch). Erica and her partner Dale
(the excellent Alan Tudyk) immediately start
investigating them, and Jack gives a cautionary speech
to his congregation about how humans should wait to
judge the aliens by their acts rather than their words.
immediately that the aliens are masters of propaganda,
using viral videos on YouTube to inspire teenagers
(including Erica’s son Tyler) to spraypaint “V” on walls
and giving slick TV interviews on the condition that no
critical questions are asked. Chad Decker (Scott Wolf)
plays a TV reporter who gets sucked into the aliens’
propaganda machine because he wants to score the
ultimate interview with Anna – and caves when she says
she’ll stop the interview if he asks probing questions.
So at least in the first episode, the battle lines are
drawn this way: DHS and church question the vistors;
media-munching teens and reporters suck up to the
visitors. Eventually, Tyler is drawn to join the youth
outreach corps of the visitors, against the wishes of
heat up when Erica and Dale realize that the visitors
seem to be connected with terrorist cells who are
stockpiling C2 in massive amounts. It seems the visitors
have been among humans for years, and we’re not sure
what their goals are. We’re also introduced to some
underground V-fighters via another main character,
salaryman Morris Chestnut, who has some unexplained
connections with these anti-V groups.
Especially in the first half, the premiere was gripping
and eerie. The ships look great, and Morina Baccarin
makes Anna incredibly menacing – mainly because she is
always smiling so sweetly.
Created by Scott “The 4400″ Peters, the show clearly
owes a lot to the original miniseries, especially in its
depiction of how the alien “visitors” use the media –
big media as well as virals online – to manipulate
humans. But the original “V” dealt with themes of
fascism, even including a Holocaust survivor character
who comments on how the alien takeover reminds him of
World War II. The reboot doesn’t touch on any of that.
It’s explicitly about terrorism, and the aliens are
actually referred to at one point as terrorists.
this does, at least in the opening episode, is subtly
shift the aliens from being superpowered, top-down
authoritarians ala Hitler, to being diffuse,
sleeper-cell style menaces who strike out from among the
general population. This fits with the idea that the
aliens hide their true, reptilian nature beneath human
masks. But it also doesn’t quite work, because it seems
obvious the visitors are so incredibly powerful that
they shouldn’t need terrorist cells to take over the
planet. They can just brandish their mega-ships and uber-technology
to control all governments.
think this problem is part of what makes the second half
of the premiere episode a little choppy and confusing. A
lot of plot developments happen really quickly and
somewhat inexplicably, although you’ll be left wanting
to see more. This is a pilot, after all, so some
slapdashery can be forgiven in the service of setting up
what looks like it will be an exciting,
conspiracy-driven actioner. It’s also quite possible
that we’ll find out why the visitors need to be sneaky.
Maybe their powers aren’t quite as vast as they seem.
drops midseason this winter with a 13-episode run, which
means it will last longer than the two miniseries it’s
based on. I’m looking forward to watching the plot
Comic-Con 2009 Special Sneak Peek Pilot Screenings:
Human Target, V and The Vampire Diaries -
July 28, 2009
V is the re-imagining of the
groundbreaking miniseries from the 80s.
Starring in V is Elizabeth
play Juliet in Lost. For me this is
reason enough to watch. Elizabeth has earned
this right IMHO with her work as Juliet on
Lost. Other cast members include
Lourdes Benedicto, Logan Huffman and
I am unfamiliar with the rest of the cast
and I am also unfamiliar with the
miniseries. I actually know nothing about
the story whatsoever. I feel this is a good
way to get into this series. I will not go
to the details of the story as I feel this
is best if already unknown. I will say the
effects in this show were spectacular. I
felt like the acting was also
top notch and except nothing less
with Elizabeth at the helm. I do have some
concerns about the progression of the story.
I feel like there was a bit too much in the
pilot. I felt like I rather have been eased
into this story instead of being thrown in
full steam and at a blazing fast pace. I
felt like this one episode should have been
2 or maybe even 3 separate episodes.
Too much is revealed, there is not even time
to speculate and consider possibilities. I
suppose this could end up being a mute point
if the show is carried out properly, which
by all means I believe this story has great
potential and the pace could be so fast for
a reason. V reminds me very much so
of another ABC product Invasion. I
was really into Invasion which had
a great cast and a great story but
Invasion only lasted a year. I hate to
say this but I feel like V could
head down this same path. I just get a
similar feel from V as I did with
Invasion. I definitely will give
V a chance and for Elizabeth’s sake
I hope this show does well! V will
premiere mid-season on ABC.
Elizabeth Mitchell's Returning To 'Lost'
Because of You, the Fans (And Then Talks
About 'V'), BuddyTV, July 28, 2009
Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Elizabeth Mitchell's one of those names tossed
into the pot that says "former
stars that will appear in the final season", and while the other names are
still a slight secret, the one we know as Juliet has
confirmed that she's doing at least two more
episodes--and thanks the fans for it.
"It was looking [like nothing will happen to my
character] and then I don't know what happens now," she
told Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. "I
do really think [the producers] listened to the fans, so
Oh, and something else: "I think that there will be a
little more because of that." So maybe more than the
long-hinted everything-will-be-reverted storyline for
the final season, I guess?
But she was there to talk about her other ABC series,
V, the refresh of the 1980s sci-fi series. And,
since it's a remake, someone's bound to scoff--and she
isn't worried. "I think about Battlestar Galactica,
[and] I kinda felt that you can make a good remake," she
said. "I didn't feel like [V] was sacrilege but
at the same time, you love what you love. You loved the
old one, and it's possible [that] we'll see how people
feel about this one."
"You sit down with the script, and it was so good," her
co-star Scott Wolf said. "For some people, screwing
[this] up would be sacrilege."
"We're paying homage to it," fellow co-star Morena
And they are thrilled to have Mitchell on
board--although it meant questions about her future on
Lost. "Part of the world of working on TV is,
you sort of know the tricks, so you know what's going to
happen," Baccarin said. "But we're really thrilled [to
So I guess, good things, then? Surely. Or, it should.
Another television franchise we
weren’t sure we wanted to see
back again, another
remake/reboot that we were leery
of. But this show opened our
bleary eyes with its moody,
weird and scary pilot. The cast,
Morena Baccarin and Alan Tudyk
and Lost’s Elizabeth
Mitchell, were snappy and fun to
watch. And the old “beware of
aliens bearing gifts” trope
still turns out to have a decent
amount of life left in it.
The 4400’s Scott Peters
brings the right amount of
paranoia to a story where the
terrorists turn out to be
anti-alien freedom fighters, and
the media is lying to us all
along. We heard several people
marveling afterwards that a
V remake could be so
intriguing. Hollywood Reporter
says the screening and panel got
a strong Comic Con response.”
is Coming Back to TV, Now
with Less Fascism
Ryan J. Downey
MTV Movies on July 27, 2009
The folks behind the re-imagining of "V" know they have their work cut out for them. Hitting the right notes with a new show based on an "event" sci-fi series that captured the country's imagination in the 1980s won't be as easy as showing a few actors swallowing furry guinea pigs or revealing their hidden scaly green skin.
In the pilot for the reboot of the sci-fi series about carnivorous reptilian aliens posing as benevolent "Visitors," screened for a mixture of excited and skeptical fans last week at San Diego Comic-Con, a teenager derides Roland Emmerich's "Independence Day" as a rip-off of earlier (and better) alien invasion movies as he and a pal watch a mothership descend above their city. It's an overt nod to the faithful who were glued to their televisions through two stellar mini-series (1983's "V" and the following year's "V: The Final Battle") and a short-lived, dodgy weekly variation, all of which also spawned a DC comic, Visitor dolls and a series of spin-off novels.
Elizabeth Mitchell ("Lost"), who plays a skeptical FBI agent, confessed her real-life distrust of most remakes to MTV. She promised however that "V" will be of the rare "Battlestar Galactica" re-imagining variety in terms of quality.
"That's basically what we're trying to do, where we do have our own voice but otherwise remain incredibly respectful -- because otherwise, I would hate it. I would get frustrated. It's like when you read a fantastic book and they put it on the big-screen and you're like, 'Ugh!' But in this case, I thought they made it relevant."
The central ideas remain the same: motherships over every major city, a resistance movement determined to expose the truth about the Visitor's true nature and goals and Visitors who decide to go rebel. Gone are the red uniforms, cool side arms, sunglasses and otherworldly voice effects.
Where the original was a metaphor for the insidious nature of fascism -- the Visitors swastika-esque symbol, their covert domination of human society under the guise of the greater good, their use of propaganda ("the Visitors are your friends!"), their targeting and rounding up of certain people, their human collaborators -- the creators of the new "V" seek to address the post-9/11 world as well.
In addition to mentions of the economy, the pilot also sees Scott Wolf ("Party of Five") as a TV journalist uttering the phrase "universal health care" in conversation with the alien commander played with delicious sinister sexiness by Morena Baccarin ("Firefly").
"I remember the original and I liked it. It was a big deal. There weren't a lot of television events like that. And people are still so passionate about it twenty-five years later," Wolf told MTV, adding that he couldn't put down the script for the pilot when he received it.
"I just tore through it. It's a kickass story. I was breathless. It just pulls you along. I read the whole thing in like twenty-five minutes. Rarely do I read a script where there are multiple characters who are so interesting and unique unto themselves."
The ensemble cast filling out that wide-variety of characters also includes Morris Chestnut ("Boyz N The Hood"), Joel Gretsch ("4400"), Lourdes Benedicto ("The Nine") and Laura Vandervoot ("Smallville"), many of whom are no strangers to Comic-Con.
The series is tentatively scheduled to begin airing in November on ABC.
screening gets strong Comic-Con response by
Lesley Goldberg on July
Saying they didn’t
want to mimic the
producers of ABC’s
upcoming “V” noted
Comic-Con that they
wanted to pay homage
to it instead.
Writer Scott Peters
said the trick in
making “V” relevant
today was to find
the show’s “own
voice” and not step
on the characters of
the mini of 25 years
ago. “We wanted to
find new themes that
Peters, in a nod to
response to the
pilot, which while
unfinished was still
screened for those
inside Ballroom 20,
added that people
are clearly still
excited about the
“A lot has
happened in the
past 25 years,”
many bad things
… the economy
has tanked. It
seemed like an
to bring up
she was a fan of
the original and
used to watch
the series with
her brother. “I
memories of the
alien baby,” she
plays Anna, the
Wolf, who trades
success, said it
was a “tie”
was creepier: a
journalist or an
that the drama
wanted to put
its emphasis on
than the mini
did in the ’80s:
“they were a
wanted to see
mom would do
when faced with