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What is The Event? It is NBC’s new sci-fi serial drama coming this fall starring Jason Ritter, Blair Underwood, and Laura Innes (The West Wing). The show will follow MIT Graduate Sean Walker 

Jason Ritter

(Ritter) as he searches for his almost-fiancé, who has disappeared without a trace from their hotel room. His frantic hunt for his love leads to the uncovering of a vast conspiracy that threatens the life of the President (Underwood). As for the actual “Event” of The Event, the show’s creators are keeping their lips sealed, in the hopes that Lost fans looking for another enigmatic, twisting, flash-backing mystery will try to parse out the clues for themselves.

That’s a tall order, as many of those fans may not have yet recovered from following six years worth of the hit show’s characters, time-warps, and alternate realities. Executive producer Evan Katz –who also produced 24 – promises The Event will not require as much patience, 

Jason Ritter

but still keep viewers tantalized. “We’re very cognizant of the audience’s patience, of rewarding the audience. I mean, the show’s really designed to answer questions, to satisfy people, to keep them hooked, frankly, but yet keep posing questions…”

Just like Lost, the pilot episode is heavy on the flashbacks, but Katz promises that will change from the second episode on. “Time will move forward from episode two on. It will be a more linear approach, and there will be flashbacks, but the story will continue to thrust forward.”

With big ambitions for the plot, show creator Nick Wauters reveals he has a “Bible” for the show that outlines the fate of each character. “All the characters were really developed from the beginning, even though that’s not really shown in the pilot because the pilot had so many characters, so many things going on.”

If you’re a little confused, don’t feel bad – Wauters keeps the actors in the dark, too. Jason Ritter says that although every actor was given a dossier on their character, they don’t know much more than the audience does regarding the plot. “So we all know as much as our characters know… as the episodes come out, we learn more about who they are. But generally we don’t know a whole heck of a lot.”

In one way, the audience might be a step ahead, as the actors aren’t allowed to even share their dossiers with the others. “We don’t really share with each other what we know about ourselves,” said Sarah Roemer, who plays Leila Buchanan, the missing fiancée.

While he deflects comparisons with Lost, Katz agrees some comparison is valid with 24. “I think there is definitely a style of storytelling, a pace of storytelling, surprises, twists, and intensity… this show will not be as dark” However, he emphasizes that Sean Walker is “…an ordinary man, an innocent, and it will give us a much longer arc for him” than Kiefer Sutherland’s gritty Jack Bauer.

Producer and Director Jeffrey Reiner also points out that unlike 24’s one-man show, The Event will follow five or so other characters: “I mean, our story is so many different points of views, to where Jack Bauer is really the main thrust on 24”. Still, Katz assures us “there’ll be that roller coaster and a visceral response to what you’re watching.”

Laura Innes plays one of the more intriguing of these other characters, Sarah McGuire. She’s the mysterious leader of a group of detainees held in secret by the U.S. Government. “My character is complicated,” she says, “powerful. She’s a leader. She will do whatever she needs to do to protect the people that she is responsible for, and there are many fantastic secrets to be revealed about her. I just love her, I think she’s just completely fierce and moral”

Another pivotal character is the apparent villain of the series, CIA director Blacke Sterling (Zeljko Cast of The EventIvanek). In a show where nothing is what it seems, viewers will have to see for themselves where Sterling’s true ambitions lay. While Ivanek is keeping his lips sealed, he feels the show goes beyond a simple “good guy, bad guy” dynamic. “Instead it focuses on “what people are capable of when they’re pushed to extremes, and I think there will be a lot of revisiting… of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and hopefully audience loyalties will shift along the way.”

If trying to keep up with flashbacks and shifting loyalties sounds complicated, then you should probably check out the accompanying website, which will expand on the story’s mythology in ways the hour-long program cannot, according to Nick Wauters. “I’ve been working very closely with NBC Digital to kind of create and expand the world of the series. So people can watch the show without having to go online, but if you do, you will get a lot more out of the experience.”

Lost viewers looking for a new sci-fi serial drama to mystify, amaze, and downright confuse them should mark their calendars for The Event, premiering Monday, September 20, at 9/8c / Issue 115 - September 9649
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