'Lone Star' State of Mind - TCA Report
by Laura Prudom, posted Aug 2nd 2010 4:00PM
Though 'Dallas' is long gone, its influence lingers on across network television -- but no new series embodies the spirit of the Ewings quite as pervasively as 'Lone Star,' which creator Kyle Killen reportedly pitched as "'Dallas' without the cheese."
Charismatic James Wolk (who looks like the genetically engineered love-child of Kyle Chandler and George Clooney, good golly!) plays con-man Robert Allen, who is living two separate lives with two separate women in two different cities. In Midland, he lives with naive girlfriend Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) while bilking local investors out of their money, and in Houston, he's married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki) daughter of a wealthy oil magnate (played by Jon Voight). Through it all, his con-man father and mentor John (David Keith) is pulling the strings and trying to draw him into another con.
Highlights from the panel follow after the jump.
While the story undoubtedly has soap-opera elements, it mainly focuses on the dynamics between Robert and his various lives, cons and deceptions, with ongoing character mysteries and slowly unraveling lies. "It's not just about the Swiss watch mechanisms of it all, it's about these characters, and these situations that they're in, and how they approach them as real people would."
-- With such a densely-plotted first season, a reporter asked executive producers how the show would sustain itself over multiple seasons. Executive producer Amy Lippman responded, "The show will need to reinvent itself periodically -- that's our challenge, to keep it going and keep it fresh and not keep playing the same dynamics over and over again." She cited cable shows like 'Breaking Bad' as a blueprint for how a show could start with a strong premise and have turned it around in some way by the end of the first season.
-- On the similarities between 'Lone Star' and 'Dallas': "I'd like to think that we'll go at least a couple seasons without the hair pulling catfights when we run out of ideas," creator Kyle Killen joked. In terms of the show's two father figures, Lippman added, "on a traditional soap 12 years ago, [Voight] and [Keith]'s characters would have been all good or all bad, black or white. Our interest is in humanizing both of them; they each do bad things but their motives are pure -- they're both just trying to hold on to the people they love, which isn't just a soapy concept but a universal concept."
-- Speaking of what attracted him to the role, newcomer Wolk admitted that he was drawn to how real and rich the world was. "I'm excited to sink my teeth into this show with this truly exceptional cast and writers; it was in the writing, and I think this is a role that can continue to challenge me."
-- When asked why the show has ended up on Fox, Killen admitted that they were attracted by Fox's pitch. "They wanted us to make the show that we were selling them -- they wanted to try a cable show on a network," he said. "I have no idea if this is a good idea for a network show, but if it's a failure, I think it's going to be a spectacular failure, and I like that. They're going to give us the leeway to try." When asked to clarify what makes a "cable" show on a network, Killen described, "a show where people aren't all black and white, everybody's gray; decisions are complicated and the conflict is never simple."
-- A reporter asked stars Adrianne Palicki and Eloise Mumford how these two women are going to live with the same man and never suspect his duplicity. "The truth is -- and this is a testament to [Wolk] and his ability -- he's so present with us in the moment that there's no reason for us to assume that he's with someone else," Palicki pointed out.
"They say love is blind and there's a reason for that," Mumford agreed. "We've all overlooked something that a lover has done to us and purposefully overlooked the subtleties of what's going wrong. We're just humans who are trying to make it work -- both women believe that he's their soulmate, I think there's something so tragic about that."
-- On shooting in Dallas, Lippman explained that they were looking for two different kinds of locations, somewhere that could double for both Midland and Houston. In Dallas, they could find skylines and office buildings and wouldn't have to travel too far to get into the middle of nowhere. "It was a very practical decision," she said.
-- In terms of how intricately mapped the first season is, Lippman noted, "We're right in the thick of it; we have a general sense of where we're going. It's a very hard show to write, just in terms of plotting." In the first seven episodes, there will allegedly be at least two that are very different tonally from the rest of the season. "We'll occasionally stay in Midland all episode or in Houston all episode," she revealed, saying that Fox has been very encouraging in terms of allowing them to experiment with the way they shoot or structure episodes.
-- On that note, executive producer Chris Keyser added that while the con aspect needs "a very specific architecture," there will be new characters introduced, and they like the idea of keeping the story "loose" enough to slightly veer from the course they anticipated if new characters or dynamics catch on or don't work.
-- A reporter asked Wolk if he thought it was possible to love two women at once: "I'd say five!" Wolk joked. "I've been in love and I know what that feeling is like, so for the character, I just multiply that feeling by two. I have to believe that that sort of love is possible to do service to the character, although I've never experienced it."
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