Three years ago at the apex of Heroes' popularity, we spoke on a panel and someone tried to get Milo to make a bold statement about the show's world-conquering popularity. Milo wouldn't be baited. Instead, he said, essentially, "All shows get cancelled. Ours will too." No fool, Milo.
I'd like to say farewell to you, the loyal fans of Heroes. You guys have been the best, most invested fans I've ever seen. I'm not just blowing smoke - it's too late for that. The show's not coming back and I have a hard time seeing how the movie event would come together.
It's hard to believe that the story of our beloved 13 episode Harper's Island is complete. To all of you who watched, supported, and shared your enthusiasm for the show with us... THANK YOU. Huge thanks. It means a lot. We've been pitching, developing, prepping, casting, shooting, editing, fixing, promoting, etc for over a year, and to hear so many of you express your gratitude has been fulfilling. Since this is my final blog, I decided to randomly list some thoughts and answer some of the viewer questions, not only from the final two episodes, but also from the whole season. I hope this helps. And again, THANK YOU for watching....
One of the highlights of a very action packed Episode 11 was the emotional Cal/Chloe death scene. The location, the stunt, the editing, the music, (Civil Twilight's "Letters From The Sky") the performances, and the writing....all extraordinary. The episode was written by my producing partner, and best friend, Dan Shotz. Dan was on set for the seven day shoot, so what better point of view than from the man who wrote the episode and lived through the chaos of shooting that scene. Ladies and gentlemen...I give you... Mr. Dan Shotz.
The production board for Episode 10 read like a schedule for a feature film. The only difference was that we had to accomplish the following in seven days, not seven weeks. In no particular order: kill two deputies, find a seaplane, film a seaplane landing on its mark (boring), blow up the Marina (awesome), throw Molotov cocktails at a parked car (kinda cool), shoot Cal, attempt to kill Jimmy, hang Maggie Krell from the roof of The Cannery (interesting), shoot sniper fire at our cast, give Sully his "Starsky & Hutch" moment (hilarious), yank the Sheriff through the third floor window of The Candlewick Inn and then hang him from a tree (holy moly) and introduce Mr. John Wakefield. Excellent. First things first, find a director. Introducing Mr. Steve Boyum. An experienced director whose directed over 7 million hours of network television. OK, maybe not 7 million but close enough. Steve directed Episode 3 of Harper's Island, so the cast and crew were already familiar with his pace and style. In a nutshell, he's fast and organized. If given the right amount of Red Bull and coffee, Steve could've directed Lord of the Rings in two weeks -- the whole trilogy.
It's the start of Episode 9, and this crew is exhausted. I don't blame them. We've been working crazy hours, dealing with bad weather, and to make matters worst, in order to meet our budgetary requirements, we've started shooting the last few episodes in seven days, as opposed to the standard eight days. The cast has been extraordinary. Those that are still around are thrilled to be here, and their energy and excitement is helping to motivate the crew. As you can see in the last two episodes, we're going through a stretch of night shooting. You can't shoot a horror show without night work, and it helps that it starts getting dark in Vancouver by 4 PM.
Episode 8 was one our toughest yet. This was the episode in which the Vancouver weather started turning ugly on us. The local crew warned me that around mid to late October things would start getting dark, cold, and wet. And sure enough, it did (watch the last ten minutes of Episode 8). I recall there being a period of ten straight days in which I didn't see the sun. Not good for an assassin raised and trained in sunny Southern California. To make matters worst, the Los Angeles based actors and I were not prepared for such a drastic turn in the climate, and our lack of winter wardrobe became the joke on set. Thankfully, our Costume Designer, Jenni Gullet, was there to save the day. Gloves, hand warmers to put in the gloves, down jackets, rain jacket to put over the down jacket, scarves, hats, hats that cover your ears, boots, socks, thicker socks that go over those socks, etc. What used to take five minutes to dress every morning now turned into a 45-minute event. But I'm an assassin. It's what I do. And nothing was going to stop me from getting the job done, even with 80 pounds of clothing on my back.
Before this blog turns into an "I Hate Vancouver Weather" essay, let me just say that Episode 8 rocked!! Murder in the jail cell, folks trying to leave the island, girls running around with guns, the Sheriff almost getting his leg hacked off, poor Richard being brought back as a dead corpse harpooned to a tree, cabin fire, the discovery of Wakefield's journal, JD bludgeoned to death, and Henry Dunn draped in his brother's blood. AWE-SOME. Our assignment for this week was to write off JD Dunn, played by Dean Chekvala. Not a very easy assignment, because this kid, Dean, was absolutely adored by the cast and crew. He would show up to set with random gifts for people (i.e. flying monkeys, pins, books, etc) and would greet everyone with hugs and a smile. Are you kidding me? Hasn't he read the Hollywood Actor's Handbook? You're not supposed to do that kind of stuff. And now his behavior was infecting the rest of the cast. They were all filled with love and support for one another. I needed to put a stop to this ASAP. I had my talk with Dean. He hugged me. Of course he did. Then he told me that he saw his death coming, so he had a gift for me. Great. The cast decided to throw Dean a "going away party." No one talked to me that night, except for Dean. The city of Vancouver was planning a parade in Dean's honor, but it rained that day (shocking), so they postponed it. Ironically, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to fly Dean back to Vancouver on two other occasions for re-shoots, pick up scenes, and publicity junkets after his death. On each of Dean's last nights, the cast would throw him yet another "going away party." To date, Dean has attended three going away parties in his honor, a Harper's Island record. But that's only a small taste of the kind of man Dean Chekvala represents.
I just received the first script of Volume 5. It's a humdinger. We start shooting one week from today, June 8th. I'm looking forward to getting back. The new Company will not be what anyone expects, but it will be desperately needed. There's a whole new threat out there.
So, let's get right to it, shall we?
Here's the thing about flashback episodes. They're awesome to write, but horrible to produce. So you can imagine the look on the faces of our department heads when they read the first few pages of Episode 7. Pure terror. Their terror quickly turned into panic. Panic then quickly transformed itself into 1,000 questions. What are we going to do with everyone's hair to make them look younger? Wardrobe? What kind of cars will we need? What did the island look like seven years ago? Lots of issues to resolve, but first things first, I had to find Chris Gauthier (who plays Malcolm) and explain to him that we were going to have to chop him up and throw his body parts into a furnace. As you guys know, the Assassin Rule has always been to speak with the actors about their demise before the script comes out for that particular episode. However, Chris Gauthier's shooting schedule was not cooperating with me, which meant that I wasn't going to be able to see him before the scripts were handed out. So, for the first time all season, I had to do something I had not done before. I had to kill someone over the phone. Not my area of expertise. Awkward. I tried to make it as painless as possible. "Hey Chris, it's Karim. How are you? [Pause] Great, umm, are you sitting down?" Worst line in Assassin history. ARE YOU SITTING DOWN?? I told you this wasn't my area of expertise. He laughed. I explained to him how we were planning on killing off Malcolm. He loved it. Until I told him that we'd have to make a cast of his head, like we did for Cousin Ben, the Reverend and Uncle Marty. The laughing stopped.
What do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Bad news. CBS recently held their Network Upfront Presentation in New York, and announced that Harper's Island would not be picked up for a second season. This is the part where I hold you and say, "It's OK, we gave it a good shot. We tried something new and different, and we just didn't get the ratings we were all hoping for." Maybe I'll even throw in a little, "It's not you, it's me" to lessen the blow. The good news. We have not been cancelled, and CBS will continue to air the remaining episodes of this season. And I promise you this, the last seven episodes are awesome. Promise.
We did it! We made it to the finals. I'm so proud of Gilles and how far he's come this season. He does everything with such hard work and determination that it is an honor to be his dance teacher. I've heard people saying that he's the frontrunner in this competition but I know that's not how he feels which is why we work so hard every week to make each dance as perfect as possible.
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