Heroes Week Sunday – Murtz Jaffer Interviews Heroes Co-Executive Producer Jeph Loeb

Undoubtedly my favorite interview of the bunch, talking to Heroes co-executive producer and writer Jeph Loeb totally lived up to the hype that I had created. Generally speaking, show writers and creators are the best type of interview that you can ask for not only because they know the show the best, but they also know where it is going and even the slightest bit of info about an upcoming season is worth its weight in gold. I was also excited to talk to Loeb because I knew that he had worked on Lost, before he moved to Heroes and that we had some mutual friends. This chat with Loeb is particularly interesting because he discusses the show repeating its first season success, where the program is going and deciphers the question that many fans have been wondering about (namely, how the Volume 2 “Generations” theme will work with the “Origins” episodes that have been rumored). This is a must-read!

Jeph Loeb: God, he’s such a pistol!

(Loeb said after switching places with Noah Gray-Cabey, whose interview he was sitting in on).

Murtz Jaffer: (Laughs). So you and I have a mutual friend.

JL: We do?

MJ: We do. Actually two I think.

JL: Oh goodness.

MJ: Damon Lindelof (co-creator of Lost).

JL: Damon is a dear friend.

MJ: And Javi (Javier Grillo-Marxuach, former Lost writer).

JL: I love Javi! Yeah, absolutely! How can you not love Javi?!

MJ: He took me on a tour of The Grove in LA.

JL: Uh huh. I think he has a pilot that just got picked up.

MJ: Yeah, because he was working on Medium right?

JL: Yeah, he was working on Medium but I think he’s now sold his comic book, Middleman.

MJ: Yeah. He sent me a couple of copies.

JL: So, it’s like the perfect thing.

MJ: Totally. He loves that Middleman stuff.

JL: He created it and now he’s going to be able to do it as a television show. That’s why he’s a tremendously talented guy.

MJ: Very cool. Now I wanted to ask you about Heroes. Obviously the show is such a huge success after its first season. How do you deal with the pressure of having to live up to that with the second season?

JL: We don’t. I mean I don’t mean to be flip about it but it is what it is. Part of the challenge of anything… when we came out of the box at the very beginning, nobody knew who we were. They didn’t know what it was. Everyone had picked Studio 60 as the breakaway hit. They got all the adulation. They were going to be the Emmy winner. They were going to be all that stuff. So a lot of the media was sort of focused on them so we could just calmly make our show. It was a real challenge dealing with the studio and the network because you know, they had to get behind something without knowing whether or not it was going to work. There were some people there that wanted to go in a much more traditional way and have everybody meet in New York right away. Come out of the loft and it would be just like Justice League Headquarters!

MJ: Exactly.

JL: And we were like, ‘that’s not our show, dude.’ But to give credit where credit is due, Katherine Pope who is now the President of the studio, just sort of picked up a sword and said ‘everybody get back and let Tim Kring make the show that he wants to make.’ This season, it’s sort of a two-pronged thing. The first part is that the idea is to create a show that if you, for some reason did not watch last season (like for example you were scubadiving for an entire year or you were locked in a basement) or you were stuck in Antarctica, the idea is that you can get the DVD (which just came out) or what we have done is that we have designed the show so that you can pick it up right now.

MJ: And that’s unlike Lost right.

JL: That’s correct.

MJ: Because on Lost, if you watch the second season, you’re in a hatch all of a sudden. What happened to the island?

JL: And again, we have said it often, we hope someday to have the success that Lost has. And we have a lot of friends over there and a lot of us came from over there. Jesse Alexander is another one of the executive producer’s and somebody who I work with everyday, and he was one of the architects at the very beginning of making that show work. What Lost did was it blazed the trail. They are sort of the Lewis & Clark of television. They were out there trying to go west when nobody else had gone out there and so what we are able to do is say ‘oh look, there’s a whole band of wild apaches up there and we’re going to go in that direction.’ One of the things that we learned from that experience was that Lost is accused of (and I don’t think it’s very true because I was on that show and I think that we actually paid off more often than people gave us credit for) but one of the things that we continually do on our show is that we try to tell stories that can get wrapped up in two or three episodes. So that you do, when you smell smoke, very shortly after that you get to see fire. And we’re going to even take that to the next step this season in that last season, you really had to go through 23 episodes in order to get to the final end. That’s a very traditional way of telling a story. You start something in the pilot and you finish it in the very last episode of the season. This year, and that was Volume 1 and that was called “Genesis”, this year we begin with something called Volume 2 which is called “Generations” which you got to see…

MJ: Yeah, the three minutes in the first season’s finale.

JL: A whole scene at the very end of the first season’s finale, which again was sort of one of the breakthrough things that we tried to do, in terms of ‘well, we’re going to show you some of next season now.’

MJ: So then what is this whole “Origins” thing?

JL: “Origins” is a separate… think about “Origins” the way you think about C.S.I. or C.S.I. Miami. They are that different. What goes on this year is that this next Volume 2 Generations starts on September 24 and somewhere in the first week of December or the second week of December, we will have run 11 episodes in a row. That will be the end of Volume 2. So everything that you learned about in the first episode will all be tied up. The villain story will be tied up (there’s a brand new villain). Brand new problems. All of our characters are in completely new situations. You will not find any person from our show from last season in exactly the same place as they were before. Some of that has to do with the fact that that’s who they were. When you take a character like Nathan (that Adrian Pasdar plays, depending on whether or not he actually survives), he was running for Congress and he won. So when you come back, you have to find out, did he become a Congressman? Did he not become a Congressman? Did he die in the explosion, what happened to that story? And we’re doing another thing which we think will be helpful which is that the first episode will be called “Four Months Later.” And so there will be a gap of time in-between there which will enable the audience to come on and realize ‘oh, this really is its own thing. This really is something that I have never seen before.’ It will have the same sort of magic and wonder that we had last season but this is something that is sort of brand-new. There are elements that we’re introducing that people talk to us about before. We have a lot more romance this year. We have got characters that are falling in love with themselves. Yes, falling madly in love with Dominican women (laughs). One of the things that I think that we’re very excited about is that Claire gets her first boyfriend.

MJ: Exactly. Nick D’Agosto. Yeah.

JL: And that character is just a great new addition to the cast.

MJ: Do you worry that (I always ask this question even to Damon) the show is becoming too complicated? I find that even TV in general is becoming very intellectual. Do you really have to pay attention and write down ‘well okay, this is how this hero is connected to this hero..’?

JL: One of the things that we are very very careful about (aside from having the ‘previously on’s…’) is that it is important and I think that Zach can speak to this, Zach Quinto just joined us…

(Zach Quinto joins the interview and waits for his turn).

JL: We always make the effort that when a character comes in, that there’s a little run-up on the scene. That you recap what’s been going on and that the character states what he or she wants. So that even if you haven’t been watching the show or even if you have been watching the show, we purposely take the time to tell you ‘this is where we are, this is what this person wants and this is what that person is keeping them from doing.’ Now, here we go.

MJ: And finally, I am sure that secrecy is a big problem with this show. Without revealing too much, what can people expect from the second season? Should they be looking out for a huge difference from Season 1 or is it just sort of building upon what has already been done.

JL: For us, I get asked this question a lot and I sort of hit on the newest answer which is if you go to a restaurant and you have had a great meal, you really don’t go again and go ‘I would like a greater meal!’ You actually go and hope that you have a great meal. And that’s really what we are trying to do. To try and continue to build on the same things that made the first season work. There are new stories, there are new characters that we very excited about. Dania Ramirez joining our cast in the character of Mya. This was something that Tim wanted to do even last season which was to do this Latina character that comes from the South and from Central America and has to get up into the United States illegally. There’s a lot of questions that we get to try and answer. What happened to Sylar? What happened to Peter? What happened to Nathan? Some of those questions, we won’t answer right away. Some of those questions, you will just simply find that person but the fun of that also is that some of those actors and some of those characters don’t know what happened. It’s a journey of exploration and answering that they will go on as well that will help the audience just come along and enjoy the fun and that’s really what it’s about.

MJ: That’s perfect, thank you so much.

JL: My pleasure.

MJ: Cheers. I’ll tell Damon that we met.

JL: Please do.

MJ: For sure.

Co-Executive Producer/Writer

Co-Executive Producer and Writer, Jeph Loeb joins the cast for the Toronto leg of the HEROES WORLD TOUR. Loeb comes to the show after enjoying being Supervising Producer on LOST and SMALLVILLE. In films, Loeb began his career as the writer/producer on such favorites as TEEN WOLF and COMMANDO. The three time Eisner Award and five time Wizard Award winning author has written every iconic comic book character from BATMAN and SUPERMAN to THE X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN. In 2003, Loeb was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Edward’s University for his work in literature and its positive effect on children.

– The second season of Heroes premieres on NBC in the U.S. on Monday, September 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

– The second season of Heroes premieres on the GLOBAL network in Canada on Monday, September 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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