Attendees of Comic-Con International in San Diego 2007 were treated to a sneak peak of a new show premiering Wednesdays this fall on ABC. "Pushing Daisies" is created by the mind behind "Wonderfalls" and "Dead Like Me," Bryan Fuller.
The panel opened with a screening of the pilot episode of the show: Young Ned discovers that he can bring dead things back to life, just by touching them, when his dog is hit by a truck. Later that day, his mother dies suddenly, and when he brings her back to life, he finds out the two drawbacks of his power: if he touches that thing again, it dies forever (he finds this out when his mother kisses him goodnight), and if he allows it to live for more than a minute, something else must die in its place (in this case, his childhood crush's father).
Today, Ned runs a pie shop, and his pies are made from dead fruit he brings back to life. His waitress, Olive, has a huge crush on him, and he helps detective Emerson Card solve murders by bringing the victims back to life, asking who did it, then touching them again within a minute. Soon, his childhood crush, Chuck, is killed aboard a cruise ship, and he brings her back but can't bring himself to touch her again, even for a last kiss – letting her live. She doesn't know who killed her, but she was killed for an item she was transporting. They recover the item from her aunt's house, find the killer, and Ned, Card and Chuck have a new business – this is the premise of of the series. Ned and Chuck love each other, but can never touch, or she will die forever.
The pilot was very well received by the Comic-Con audience, and afterwards, the moderator, Variety reporter Brian Lowry, introduced the panel: producer Dan Jinks, creator Bryan Fuller, stars Lee Pace (Ned), Anna Friel (Chuck), Chi McBride (Emerson Card), and Kristin Chenoweth (Olive Snook), producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld, and producer Bruce Cohen.
Lowry started by asking a few questions. First, he asked Bryan Fuller, "after you've done a pilot that has this kind of reaction, do you want to quit while you're ahead?"
Fuller stated, "No, because we have a lot more fun to be had. I don't think we're ahead yet."
Jinks added, "and we hope to be doing a hundred more of these."
But the "voice of doom," Barry Sonnenfeld, also added, "live in fear and you'll never be disappointed."
The idea for "Pushing Daisies" comes from an unused plot for the second season of "Dead Like Me." Ned's character was a grim reaper that brought people back to life, and the main character (who had died in the first episode of the series) would be brought back to see her family, and die again after. This never happened, according to Fuller, because "then I went to do 'Wonderfalls.'" That was greeted with cheers from the audience.
Lowry asked the actors if they could see the tone of the show just from reading the script. Chi McBride answered first, "Yeah. I really enjoyed reading the script and knew that it would be different than anything else on television," and that "Barry has the same sardonic wit I do."
Jinks joked, "Chi told us the secret of 'The Nine' (McBride's previous series), so we had to cast him."
McBride added that the remaining episodes of 'The Nine' will air in the first week of August.
Lowry's final question was for Pace and Friel. Since they can't touch on the show, "do you not touch each other on set?" They promptly kissed, passionately.
The first audience question was about "symmetricallity and palindromic structure" in first episode and if it would build up over course of the series? McBride was the first to respond. "You noticed some what ? I know this is Comic-Con, but break it down."
The audience member then cited the use of "Boutique Travel Travel Boutique" as a name, and Fuller replied, "it's just kind of fun to say. We go for fun on this show."
Will the episodes be more standalone, from week-to-week? According to Fuller, there will always be a "case of the week, and that case will be a metaphor for what's going on between the characters." He then cited an upcoming episode about a "guy in prison and a woman who lives in windmill," as a metaphor for Chuck and Ned's relationship. The emotional arc of the will be more serialized, while the week-to-week episodes will be more standalone.
The next question was for Kristin Chenoweth, "Aren't you afraid of dog cooties?" Referring to her scene where she eats off the same spoon as a dog. "No, I make out with my own dog every night, and we use tongue, so it's fun."
Asking about the extent of Ned's power, someone asked if Chuck died again, but from natural causes, could Ned bring her back again? Fuller said, "No, sadly. If she dies, then she's dead."
The next few guests were all big Kristin Chenoweth fans. One asked if she'll be heavily featured in the show, to which Chenoweth replied by showing off her cleavage. "I'm pretty sure by just showing the director that I'll have a bigger role."
Fuller said the fan had nothing to worry about, and that his mission was to "find a way to get Kristin to sing."
Chenoweth then discussed why she chose "Pushing Daisies" over doing "Young Frankenstein" on Broadway. She realized "Pushing Daisies" was "incredibly unique and special." At this point, Fuller and Jinks hinted heavily at an inevitable musical episode.
Photographs by Pinguino Kolb.
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