Jason Ritter and Blair Underwood Tease THE EVENT


Few new shows are getting more buzz this fall than NBC’s THE EVENT. The conspiracy thriller will follow an unlikely hero who finds himself entangled in a huge cover-up as he investigates the disappearance of his girlfriend. Daemon’s TV was there when stars Jason Ritter (Sean Walker) and Blair Underwood (President Elias Martinez) talked to the press about the show and their characters. The actors were very careful with their responses, so there are no real spoilers.

On describing the show

When asked what the make-up of the show was in terms of political conspiracy versus science fiction, Jason and Blair agreed that so far each episode (they are shooting the sixth now) has been 95% political conspiracy and action and 5% science fiction. Jason stressed that the vast majority of the show takes place in the world we live in with just a small fantastical element to keep it interesting.

When asked if there is any humor in the show, Jason replied there is and that while it’s hard to make running funny, there is levity in the flashbacks and when a lot of information is being imparted.

On having a plan

Noting that people have reason to be gun-shy about big mythology shows and that NBC is also acutely aware of that, Blair mentioned several times during the call that the producers have a plan. He said that there is actually a five year plan and that the first and second seasons are especially well plotted out.

Blair remarked that having a plan is much rarer than we might expect and that The Event is unique in the sense that everyone knows where the show is going.

On what sets The Event apart from the Heroes, Lost, V, FlashForward pack

Jason explained that the producers have seen where shows have succeeded and where fans have been left wanting more. He said that NBC has also seen this and while they were ready for a show like The Event, they wanted to make sure it had enough back story and luckily, creator Nick Wauters had been brewing the idea for The Event for four years and had plenty of back story.

For Blair, it all comes down to characters. He said that while there are only so many stories in the world to be told, it’s all in how the stories unfold and through whose eyes we see them. He praised both the show’s writers and the marketing campaign for putting so much focus on those characters, introducing them very well and very methodically in both the pilot and the ad campaign.

On episode format

According to Blair, every script they’ve seen so far has a cliffhanger right before each commercial break, which is revisited immediately after the commercial. The end of each episode has a “wow” moment that is addressed at the beginning of the next episode. Jason explained that at the end of the pilot, Sophia says something intriguing (he almost slipped and said what) and the second episode picks up with someone asking her what she means by that.

Both Jason and Blair mentioned we will learn about the characters and events through flashbacks.

On getting answers

There will be a lot of questions answered by the second episode and that episode will have a big reveal. Blair said they want to keep the mystery without frustrating people.

On the Event

Both Jason and Blair claimed not to know what the Event actually is, though Laura Innes (detainee Sophia Maguire) apparently does (as does her character) and enjoys taunting Jason about that fact. While part of Jason wishes he knew, mostly he is glad to only know what his character does. It makes his job easier and means he doesn’t have to lie when people ask him

Blair said the Event “would be very eventful and something that can change the course of mankind.” He also said that we will see the pre-Event and at some point we will see the actual Event and then the consequences and fall-out.

Neither actor could or would say when we will see the Event, just that we will.

On character backstories

Blair said that the night before shooting the pilot, each actor got a sealed dossier with his or her character’s backstory. The dossiers were labeled confidential and not to be shared with other actors.

On political issues

When asked if the show had any far-reaching political messages, Blair said that while big and resonating issues like immigration and detainees are raised, the show is trying to stay away from any actual politics.

Jason agreed, explaining that political issues are presented, but that the problems are always seen as complicated issues and the president must struggle to do the right thing.

On taking on the role of President of the United States

Blair said he was attracted to the role because of the character itself, because the first five seasons and especially first to two seemed well plotted, and because Laura Innes, whom he respects, was already attached. He also said the he and Jason share an agent who told him Jason really liked the script and that he probably would, too. He also looked to network support as a selling point, explaining that while it’s great to experiment in independent films, it’s also great to be a part of a big project with that much support behind you.

As far as playing the president, Blair said he likes that people want to see not just the president you see on the news, but the human side, too.

On President Martinez

President Martinez is the newly-elected first Afro-Cuban president, born of Cuban refugees. His political party is not specified, but his administration is the first dual-party one, so whatever he is, his vice-president is the opposing party.

Blair described Martinez as “a good man, a man of faith who wants to do the right thing.” He said that Martinez is “righteously indignant” over the secrets he learns have been kept.

Blair said Martinez is a hands-on president. While most of what he has shot so far has been in and around the White House, Martinez does immediately go to Alaska to see the detainees when he learns about them and he also leaves the White House in the third episode to be hands on with something else.

Blair is a little jealous of Jason’s more action-packed role. “All I do is walk around in suits and talk a lot.”

On why Jason was drawn to the Sean Walker role

Jason said he was fascinated by the having to put the different puzzle pieces together as he read the script and that he liked how Sean goes to two very different emotional places in eleven days. He also noted that the characters are fleshed out and he likes seeing those characters jump back and forth in time.

On Sean Walker

According to Jason, Sean’s motivation is his girlfriend, Leila (Sarah Roemer). She is everything to him and he needs to find her, so he will do anything to get her back. We will also see Leila is his motivation in the flashbacks where he wants to be a good man for her.

Jason likes that Sean is a video game programmer instead of a cop with fifteen years experience to back him up. While he won’t be Jack Bauer, he does grow in the six episodes they’ve worked on so far. Jason said that Sean had a certain innocence but has grown up.

Sean has so far had to jump off a cliff, crawl through wreckage, and do a lot of running. Jason likes the action sequences and has done a lot of his own stunts, but not the cliff jump in the pilot. He said there is a lot of action so far in the first season with some exciting and mind-blowing sequences.

On whether Sean and President Martinez know each other

Jason said that as of the sixth episode, the stories of Sean and Martinez have not yet intersected, though other storylines are beginning to converge. Sean knows who President Martinez is, and Jason thinks Martinez will soon know about Sean.

On why people should tune in to The Event

Jason thinks The Event has the potential to be both a hit and a cult favorite because you can watch it either casually or go deeper into the world of the show through NBC. com or theeventiscoming.com. He said that he is excited each time he gets a new script and that each one has been up to par with the pilot. He said its up to them to make the best product they can and hope the audience comes.

Blair said that The Event has something for everyone: political conspiracy, romance, action, and science fiction. He explained that tonally it has elements of 24 and Lost, calling it a political thriller with science fiction undertones.

The Event premieres Monday, September 20 at 9pm/8 central. You can find all our The Event coverage here.

Follow me on Twitter @michstjame