Around the World in Seven Days: "Heroes" World Tour

Wednesday morning, Tim Kring and the cast of his hit NBC show "Heroes" met with members of the press in Stage 7 of the Sunset Gower studio in Hollywood, CA, to announce the Heroes World Tour. Besides Kring, actors Santiago Cabrera, Jack Coleman, Greg Grunbreg, Ali Larter, Masi Oka, Hayden Panettiere, Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Leonard Roberts, Milo Ventimiglia and Noah Gray-Cabey were in attendance. And CBR News was on the scene.

It was after repeated requests for the cast and crew of "Heroes" to make appearances abroad that Kring and fellow Executive Producer Dennis Hammer first conceived of the World Tour. "I assumed that we would be laughed out of the building when we approached NBC with this somewhat audacious idea," Kring said. "But Dennis Hammer felt otherwise, and we pushed on, and boy, was he right, because NBC embraced it immediately. And now after several months of planning, tireless efforts from dozens and dozens of people at NBC, Universal Media Studios at GE, navigating through complicated logistics involving six different countries, as many languages and multiple time zones, it gives us great pleasure to announce that this crazy idea of ours has now become a reality.

"The central message of 'Heroes' from the very beginning has been one of hope," Kring continued. "The idea that people from all around the world could come together to do great things, and in the process make the world smaller and more interconnected. This tour is the embodiment of those ideals.” The tour will celebrate the show's success all around the world, and spread the word about the release of "Heroes" Season 1 on DVD and HD DVD. Kring also announced the show's continued relationship with Nissan, who have gone from being the show's sole sponsor when the "Heroes" pilot aired to launching a multi-pronged marketing campaign starting with the second season opener. The tour so far includes Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Munich, Paris, London and New York City, with more stops in the works. "Along the way, NBC.com will be the online destination for fans who want to follow our adventures and our travels. The Heroes World Tour website on NBC.com will include photos and video from each of the international locations, as well as blogs and personal photos from the actors in each city.” Kring also assured journalists that the show was committed to making the tour as environmentally friendly as possible. Kring then opened up the floor for questions from the press.

Kring took a moment to address the Tour's itinerary, which is still in the works. "It's a lot of press and press events and meeting with the various channels that are showing the show, and various fan events as well," Kring said. "We're going to be dividing up the cast. The tour will last one week, and in order to go to these various countries, we're going to divide it up strategically."

When asked if any show had done a similar World Tour before, Grunberg quipped, "The Brady Bunch went to the Grand Canyon.” Kring went on to say that he and his wife had experienced in Paris this past summer what many of his fellow cast members had experienced in locales around the globe: such is the enthusiasm for "Heroes" that press and fans alike have already illegally downloaded the entire first season before the show has officially aired in their countries. "So when we go, it's going to kind of be like Comic-Con, I would think, all over the world."

Speaking of Comic-Con International in San Diego, Kring then spoke to the show's plans for this year's convention which is just over a month away. "Comic-Con for us has got a very soft spot in our heart, because last year we launched our press of the show at Comic-Con," Kring said. "We went there with basically very little to show, we had a pilot and some high hopes. But they embraced us and took to the Internet and really helped launch the show. So this year we're going back with kind of a big thank you, we're trying to bring everybody involved with the show, the entire cast, and all of us, writers and producers. Much bigger venue, bigger room, with some behind the scenes and some clips and some announcements that we're saving just for them.

"Comic-Con was the only place that the original uncut version of the pilot was aired, and so now with the release of the DVD and the HD DVD fans will get to see it," Kring said. Other special features for the Season 1 box set include behind-the-scenes featurettes, 50 deleted, scenes and commentaries on most of the episodes.

Kring took a minute to talk about "Heroes: Origins," the six-episode spin-off series slated to air at the end of April after the second season wraps up. "The idea is that these are the stories of other people," Kring said. "The show has posited this idea that this is happening all around the world, so this is an opportunity for us to tell some stories about some of these other people out there.” Kring's assertion that the regular cast will not be appearing in "Origins" left Grunberg visibly dejected.

"Origins" is being developed as an anthology series, without a continuing cast or storyline, and Kring hopes that will attract a different pool of talent. "That's one of the interesting things about the idea of it being an anthology where people don't have to commit to an entire series, and some of the hopes of that is to entice certain actors, certain writers, certain directors that may not normally be attracted to the work-load of the series," Kring said.

Early reports indicated that fans would be given the opportunity to vote which of "Origin's" new characters would be written into "Heroes" proper, but Kring said that might become logistically impossible. "Internally, you may not be able to make a deal with somebody, or they may not be available, or they may be terrible to work with and we don't wanna work with them," Kring explained. "There's a million reasons why you don't want somebody imposing that on you.” But Kring did not discount the possibility that fan input might welcomed for one or two stand-alone episodes.

Kring told reporters "Heroes" Season 2 had started production two days earlier, and that they have already broken stories for the first half of the new season. When asked if she was happy to be back to work of "Heroes," Panettiere responded with a resounding yes. "I can now work more than 10 and a half hours," she beamed.

"Which is not that great for the rest of us," Coleman joked.

Coleman, for his part, informed reporters that even though his character's first name was finally revealed to be Noah in the Season 1 finale, the Season 2 scripts still refer to his character as HRG, as he was originally introduced in the "Heroes" pilot. Fans know HRG is an acronym for Coleman's characteristic horn-rimmed glasses, but suggested a new interpretation: "He's really great."

And fans of comic artist Tim Sale will be happy to learn that his distinctive art style will return for Season 2. "Tim is going to still stay involved and the idea of the paintings is going to have a clever re-entry into the show," Kring said.

Kring said definitely that as of the Season 1 finale, the multiple personalities of Ali Larter's character had intergrated. "It leaves us with a new beginning for that character, and her powers will be redefined," he said.

Kring boiled the "Heroes" writing process down to this: "It's ten writers in a room for ten thousand hours talking to each other, that's basically what it comes down to.” Kring further told reporters that the changes to the writing staff for "Heroes" Season 2 was relatively minimal. "We lost Bryan Fuller to his own pilot," Kring said. "We brought in a writing team, the Blake Sisters, and J.J. Philbin has joined us as well. We filled out a little bit."

Kring was tight-lipped about which of the show's cast survived the events of the first season finale, and assured reporters that the fact that the entire cast of Season 1 would be part of the World Tour did not guarantee their characters would return for the show's second volume. Pasdar introduced himself to the crowd and looked for affirmation from Kring as to whether or not he should say he plays Nathan Petrelli in the present or past tense. "I'm very happy to be up here today, but we'll just see," Pasdar said.

"I took four to the chest, thanks for remembering," Grunberg chided the press. But the actor did let it slip that he had already begun filming for Season 2, so fans of Matt Parkman can expect to see the character return.

But on character Kring always intended to kill off was Season 1's arch villain, Mr. Linderman. "I looked at Linderman as almost like a Bond villain," Kring said. "The Bond movies always have somebody new and interesting. So Liderman was our Dr. No."

As the Q&A came to a close, Kring wheeled out a massive Globe-shaped cake, with markers for each of the cities the Heroes World Tour is going to hit and proceeded to cut it with Takezo Kensei's ubiquitous sword. And after the cake-cutting, Kring stuck around long enough to answer a few more questions from the press.

While "Heroes" Season 2 will introduce new characters, the fact that fans will already be familiar with the show's core cast lessened the need for every character to be in every episode. "So we're able to sort of pull back and let certain characters come to the surface for an episode," Kring said. This gives the creators more freedom to do episodes like last season's "Company Man," which focused heavily on HRG. "That's something we really learned last year, you had to earn enough interest in those characters to be able to focus on them."

When asked about the mixed fan reaction to the Season 1 finale, Kring said, "One of the problems of a big serialized show, by the time you get 23 episodes in, you're dragging a tremendous amount of story behind you, and when people wait that long for answers, it gets very hard to satisfy people."

The entirety of Season 1 comprised the first volume of "Heroes," entitled "Genesis.” But to combat that intense build-up of expectation, and to make the show more accessible to new viewers, Kring has decided to break the second season's 24-episode run into three self-contained volumes. "Volume 2 is entitled 'Generation,'" Kring said. "We're looking at volume 2 to end at the middle of the season, which allows us to wrap up certain stories, which allows us to have new stories begin, so you don't get a sense that if you jump on the train, you're aggressively being pushed off the train because you don't know what's going on."

Kring said there would not be much first-season recap in the early episodes of Season 2 because the recap is built into the story, as the second season premier picks up four months after the end of the first season. "There's tremendous mystery in what happened in those four months, and that's why you're watching these first few episodes is because they're revealing what actually happened.” The only storyline that picks up exactly where Season 1 left off is that of Hiro, who Kring says is currently slated to spend the first several episodes in feudal Japan.

"Heroes" Volume 2, which begins with the second season premier, is entitled "Generations.” "Last year we set up the sense that there was this other generation represented by Linderman, and the Petrellis' mom, and George Takei, and the Richard Roundtree character, all these characters set up an idea that there was another generation that had secrets of their own, and this season, one of those themes that we're going to talk about is the sins of the parents being visited upon the children," Kring said. "That's one of the themes, this idea of how generationally we are left with problems that we have to fix."

Kring said the beginning of Season 2 returns the series to one of its early touchstones: what it's like for people with extraordinary powers to lead ordinary lives. "As opposed to the first season where it got so cranked up with the plot that that idea sort of fell by the wayside."

And much like the beginning of Season 1, Season 2 finds the cast split up again. "That's always been the fun I felt of the show and some of the secret of the show is the guessing and predicting and discussion about how these disparate characters are going to find their way back into each other's lives," Kring said. "I think that's a big chunk of what the show's success is."

As far as Emmy buzz goes, Kring said he certainly harbors hopes for "Heroes" to be recognized. "Clearly this kind of show is a difficult show for Emmy voters to wrap their brain around," Kring said. "It has some sci-fi elements, traditionally not the most praised by the Emmy voters, but clearly, when you set out to do something bold and from your heart, you hope that people appreciate it."

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