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The Celebrity Apprentice
Mar 01 2012, 12:00 AM by Christine Montgomery
Television Producers Howard
Gordon and Kyle Killen -- the masterminds behind TV classics 24, Lone Star and The X-Files -- have returned to prime time as the Executive Producers
of the new psychological, science-fiction thriller Awake. We sat down to chat with them to discuss the concept for Awake, the joys of the creative process, and how Awake almost shared its namesake with Rock ‘n’ roll band from Athens, Georgia. Howard Gordon and Kyle Killen talk about waking-up television viewers to the most intense and intriguing new show of the current spring season.
Kyle can you talk about how you came up with the concept for the Awake series?KILLEN: I think it had some things in common with the last series [I created], Lone Star, and when that ended I think probably some of those questions of duality and trying to make a go of living life in two spaces was still floating around in my head. So that was something that was still of interest to me and this seemed like a good vehicle for exploring a lot of that. The concept of the way your dreams feel real- the way you seem to experience them as something that you don't blink at until something crazy happens that sort of bursts that balloon. I became interested in the question of what if nothing ever popped that balloon. What if you couldn't tell the difference between when you were awake and when you were asleep? And then I started looking for a way to marry those two ideas up and a few months later we had Awake. If you could define it in a nutshell, how would you explain the show? Michael's therapists on the show are both saying their world is not a dream and yet it is almost like a parallel universe where we are in two different worlds. Can you elaborate on that?KIILLEN: It is essentially, a detective who has experienced a tragic accident and he has lost either his wife or his son. One of those worlds is real and the other is a dream that he has created to compensate for it. But the therapists in each world argue that their world is reality and the other one is a fiction created by his brain. Ultimately, what we see in the pilot episode is that he [Detective Michael Britton] is actually less interested in figuring out what's real and what's not than maintaining those two worlds, because as long as he has got both of them, he has got access to his wife and his son. Then he hasn't really lost anything. The upshot for a detective living across two worlds is that he discovers that the cases in one seems to sort of be reflected or replicated in the other. And that provides him with insight and clues that allow him to do his job differently than he did before and, differently than any other detective that we have gotten to see on television. As for the question of which is the true world and which is the dream world, is that something that you are actually going to answer or is it something that's going to be left open at least for the foreseeable future?KILLEN: Well, it's an inherent question at all times and there are people and events that take place in the show on a weekly basis that seem to reflect on the nature of what is real and what is manufactured. Sometimes pursuing those questions are important to the case that Michael is on, or to understanding his own story as he looks back at the events that happened to him that caused the situation. But I think in long term the show isn't built around answering a single question, you know, which is real. The show is really about a man who has decided and desperately wants to live in both of these worlds. Who refuses to acknowledge which is real and which isn't. And as you try to live two lives in parallel and you see them start to go in dramatically different directions. I think the idea is that hopefully the audience, like the character, becomes invested in not wanting to let either of those go.GORDON: Obviously, that question will ebb and flow over the course of this first season. But there is also a big question that is answered and that we drive toward at the end of this season, which is, what exactly did happen that night? And that is a question that will be answered and should give people a pretty strong sense of closure in terms of an ongoing question.At this point it is very early in the game, but do you have an end game for the show or an idea of how you want it to end or is that something that you are just working through as the show progresses? Is there a possibility that perhaps both of the worlds are a dream and not just one?KILLEN: To answer your first question I would say we have some pretty
distinct ideas about where we'd like to go and how we would like to sum
it up. I think also part of the joy of this process is leaving yourself
open to, you know, the inspiration that comes from putting a bunch of
creative people together in a room and letting the story evolve. Rather
than being dogmatic about something, you know, letting a group of people
discover it together is frankly why you do the job. As for the possibilities of how it could turn out I wouldn't take
anything off the table... And I think for the moment that is also part
of the joy of being on a show like this. That you get to tackle really,
really big questions like that. So I guess we hope to be around long
enough to put that out there.
The original name of the show was REM and you decided to change it to Awake. Can you tell me a little bit about that?KILLEN: Honestly, I believe legally it is hard to name your show after a
band that has been around for 20 years! So we came up with something
different and ultimately it is something I really have grown
to like more. I think it somehow reflects the emotional content of the
show rather than the phenomenon of the show. In a way I think it really
speaks more to what it is about.
---------------By: Earl Dittman
Tune in for the Series Premiere of Awake - Thursday March 1 at 10.00 et/pt