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Firefly alums Minear and Fillion talk about Drive - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 20th 2007 3:11PM
Drive logoTake a bunch of good-looking people, put them in cars and have them race across the country, and what do you get? Drive, the latest series from Tim Minear, who's probably best known for his efforts on Buffy and the cult favorite Firefly. Right after Peter Ligouri gave his executive session, FOX decided to have the Drive cast out on stage for a Q&A. And when I mean the cast, I mean the entire cast; twelve actors, including Nathan Fillion, Dylan Baker and Melanie Lynskey. They were joined by Minear and his fellow executive producers, Ben Queen and Greg Yaitanes.

The most intersting thing about this series is that, while it shows ordinary citizens who are persuaded to participate in an illegal cross-country race for a $32 million prize, all the actors' in-car scenes will be shot in front of green screens. The challenge, according to Minear: "Could you make a show that takes place partially in moving vehicles that go across the country and not make it look bad?" He took a cue from War of the Worlds, which had in-car scenes where the audience saw the environment from all angles, inside and out. The effects experts who did that effect also worked on Drive.

Minear seemed to be pretty glib about his history of being a "cult failure," creating shows that critics love and a small band of fans adore, but inevitably get cancelled in a short period of time. For instance, when he was asked about why, if the race in the show is secret and illegal, how do people hear about it, he replied, "It's sort of like my last three shows on FOX. People hear rumors, then they download it or buy it on DVDs." When asked if he is the Rocky Balboa or Apollo Creed of show runners, he said with a grin, "Some days, the $2 million is hardly worth it." Finally, when asked if the show is going to have different arcs in different seasons, he pleaded mock ignorance by saying, "I've never been past 15 episodes myself."

A surprising face in the cast was Lynskey, who plays a mother who's brings her kids along on the race (in a minivan, no less). She currently plays Rose on Two and a Half Men, but she's leaving that show for the meatier role in Drive. The second surprise? Her New Zealand accent! When I caught up with her after the session, she told me that American accents come easy to her because New Zealand gets a lot of American television, so the accent was has been a natural for her to do. She has a few episodes left as Rose, and there's an opening for her to come back.

More on the show: was it inspired by race movies? Queen said that he was inspired by the movie The Gumball Rally, but noticed that most race movies were more goofy than dramatic. "I wanted something that could be dramatic, and be dark and funny at the same time. It's the car race movie I always wanted to see."

Will there be an end to the race at the end of the season? Yes and no. According to Minear and Yaitanes. There will be some resolution by the end of the season, but parameters of the race will change as the season goes on, as will the motivations of the racers themselves. But he did leave his crew a "warning": " The actors should know we were thinking of calling the show Firey Ball of Death."

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Brent McKee

As was stated in the article, the series seems to have been inspired by "Gumball Rally" which in turn was inspired by the real "Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash" which was created by Car & Driver Magazine's Brock Yates as a protest against the 55 MPH speed limit. "Gumball Rally", which starred Michael Sarazin, Raul Julia and Gary Busey (among others) was a far superior movie to either of Burt Reynold's two "Cannonball Run" films.

January 21 2007 at 2:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Honestly, a car show sounds stupid, but I'll give it a shot given the people involved.

January 20 2007 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Isn't this a TV version of Cannonball Run? Ok, those were not ordinary people, but does anyone else see the paralells?

January 20 2007 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Minear himself said he worked on "Buffy," so that's what I went with. Maybe it was in a capacity that doesn't make the list on IMDb.

January 20 2007 at 8:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Tim Minear never worked on Buffy. His other Joss Whedon show was Angel. It's a mistake that happens often.

January 20 2007 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really looking forward to Drive. I hope the Minear 13-episode curse will be broken with this show.

January 20 2007 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Prescott

um melanie lynsky's first role was as the second lead in the brilliant "heavenly creatures" directed by peter jackson (yes that peter jackson). she used her normal accent in that. i'm always wierded out that she hasn't really used it since.

January 20 2007 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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