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Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz talk about Once Upon A Time

02.14.2011

This is one I thought the LOST fans might enjoy.

Two writers for our favorite island adventure (aside from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) are in the early stages of their new show, ONCE UPON A TIME which might possibly debut at ABC. No, it's not Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. These two writers gave us some key happy moments in the series, as well as TRON: LEGACY, I'm talking about Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.

After LOST ended, fans of the show wondered where they might get their next fix. Some have traveled to different network galaxies and found other shows to keep their interest. Vulture sat down with the two writers to talk about this new project. The series will be about, "A young boy lives in Storybrooke, Maine, where he's convinced things aren't what they seem, and we also get glimpses through flashbacks? flash-sideways? of a fairy tale land where familiar evil queens and dwarves with sharply drawn personalities are quite real."

What is Once Upon a Time about?

Kitsis: What we want to do is take a look at well-known characters and stories and kind of dig deeper than what you know, and say, "Here's what you didn't know." We want to try to bring [the characters] out as people instead of just metaphors to deal with our fears.

Horowitz: For us, first and foremost, this is a character show. We want to take the iconography that we've always loved and find find a new way to look at what makes these fairy-tale characters tick

How was this idea born? Horowitz: It was eight years ago. We had come off Felicity. And we got into a discussion about the kind of show we'd like to do, and why we write. We started talking about the myths and fairy tales that had inspired us, which led to, "How do you explore that in a new way?" We had no interest in retelling every story everyone knows.

Kitsis: And we started to say things like, "What if you were the evil queen? How annoying would it be to live in the enchanted forest ... [and] you have no hope of a happy ending?" It was that kind of weird take on it. We were younger writers, so people weren't in such a hurry to buy a crazy idea from two guys who were very young in their career. But the idea stuck with us. Horowitz: The six years of Lost were rather intense and didn't really afford us the opportunity to develop it.

Kitsis: Then when Lost ended, ABC came to us and asked if we wanted to do our own show. We said we'd like to do this. They immediately said, "Great." And the very first thing we did was go to Damon and said, "Here's this crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy idea. Is this a show?" He's really been a godfather to us in helping us shape this.

In the pilot script, you cut between two worlds Fairytale Land and Storybrooke and two different times. Lost didn't invent flashbacks, of course, but it definitely seems you're borrowing a technique that's worked before.

Kitsis: After six years of Lost, the DNA of that show is in us. We just found it to be an effective way to tell this [story]. The Lost pilot was wide enough and included enough things so that when season five came, and we spent half of the year in 1973, nobody cried foul. It felt like it was already a part of the DNA. We want to go into battle with as many tools as we can so we can tell as many stories in as many ways as possible.

Horowitz: This [technique] was the best way of telling the story in the pilot. If we're lucky enough to move forward, we'd love to explore many different ways to tell stories.

Will this be a show, like Lost, that you need to watch religiously to fully understand?

Kitsis: There will be self-contained stories in each episode. [And] there will be a larger mythology at work. But it's not like if you miss an episode one week, you can't catch up.

Tell me more about how Damon [Lindelof] has been involved with the development so far.

Kitsis: He's been great in every situation. We can go to him and say, "We just got this phone call [from the network] what does it mean?" And he's able to translate that because he's been through it all. What Damon has been really great about is helping us find our vision for the show.

Will we see other Lost-ies pitch in on Once Upon a Time? Maybe Michael Giacchino doing the score?

Kitsis: I would love to have Michael for the score! I would kill for him. But I think he's a little busy right now doing movies. There are some things that might pop up. Geronimo Jackson might appear on the show at some point.

Trying to tell stories with characters we all know could be tricky, especially when it comes to bringing humor to stories. Things could easily get cheesy or corny real fast, right?

Horowitz: It really comes down to grounding it in real characters. If what the characters are doing is real, you have license to be as funny as you want to be. On Lost, Hurley was very funny, but he never told jokes. He never had pratfalls.

Kitsis: The two favorite episodes of Lost that Adam and I wrote were "Dave," which was where Hurley has an imaginary friend, and "Trisha Tanaka is Dead," where Hurley finds a van and starts it. That feeling you got when the Three Dog Night song plays, and Hurley gets the van started that's what we wanted this to be. It's funny like that. We don't want it to be "Wink, wink, aren't we clever." We want it to feel real and emotional. We want people to be swept up in the story and stop saying, "Hey, there's Pinnochio!" and instead say, "Oh, there's a child with a problem."

So this show won't be afraid to get a little twisted?

Kitsis: We're not doing the 12-year-old kid version of this. We're gonna tell stories that are dark and complex and emotional. They're not going to be lowered for younger people. Because at the end of the day, we want to do something that doesn't suck.

Horowitz: Not sucking is very, very important.

Extra Tidbit: What would you have changed about LOST?
Source: Vulture

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3:49PM on 02/15/2011
Was anyone else disappointed when they realised this wasn't an article about the Beastie Boys?
Was anyone else disappointed when they realised this wasn't an article about the Beastie Boys?
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12:55PM on 02/15/2011

LOST

will never be replaced, one of the best fucking shows in tv and no show will replace it i would just have liked it if it went really deep in the history of the island but it is still the BEST, this show has potential though
will never be replaced, one of the best fucking shows in tv and no show will replace it i would just have liked it if it went really deep in the history of the island but it is still the BEST, this show has potential though
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10:08PM on 02/14/2011

Tidbit

also...more bikini Charlotte.
also...more bikini Charlotte.
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9:40PM on 02/14/2011
I wish Shannon made it to the end. and Sayid taught her karate.
I wish Shannon made it to the end. and Sayid taught her karate.
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7:47PM on 02/14/2011
Tidbit

Nothing.
Tidbit

Nothing.
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7:39PM on 02/14/2011

Tidbit

Nothing.

The show ended the only way it could have and it ended on a brilliant note. The all or nothing emotional ending was definitely one of the greatest couple of hours I have ever watched.

In the end it was all about the characters and for those characters to just let go. Every season of LOST was terrific and Season 6 is one of the stronger seasons of the show. Infact, LOST is one of the few television shows that I can name that DID NOT have one bad season.
Nothing.

The show ended the only way it could have and it ended on a brilliant note. The all or nothing emotional ending was definitely one of the greatest couple of hours I have ever watched.

In the end it was all about the characters and for those characters to just let go. Every season of LOST was terrific and Season 6 is one of the stronger seasons of the show. Infact, LOST is one of the few television shows that I can name that DID NOT have one bad season.
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6:26PM on 02/14/2011

Tidbit

The final season. It became clear early on that the writers had no clue where they were headed, while there were a few gems in the last season, they wasted a lot of time on introducing characters and situations that were just padding and ultimately didn't matter a whit (Dogan etc...) leading up to the finale which was one of the greatest disappointments I've ever had, (bring on the thumbs down!). And before you guys say it, no, I didn't need or even want all the mysteries answered. I just
The final season. It became clear early on that the writers had no clue where they were headed, while there were a few gems in the last season, they wasted a lot of time on introducing characters and situations that were just padding and ultimately didn't matter a whit (Dogan etc...) leading up to the finale which was one of the greatest disappointments I've ever had, (bring on the thumbs down!). And before you guys say it, no, I didn't need or even want all the mysteries answered. I just wanted the same quality in storytelling in Season 6 that they'd brought in the earlier years. By season 6 it was clear they'd degenerated into a let's just make crap up as we go along. And to all you apologists out there, people apologized for JarJar too in the first years after Phantom Menace... so wait a few years and you might see my POV. (There, that ought to get me some thumbs down!) Search your feelings, you know this to be true.
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6:33PM on 02/14/2011
Preach it! That show was phenomenal for 5 seasons and then all of a sudden season 6 comes a long and it's like the writers and producers forgot what made their show great. The storytelling in the final season was like rookie mistake terrible.
Preach it! That show was phenomenal for 5 seasons and then all of a sudden season 6 comes a long and it's like the writers and producers forgot what made their show great. The storytelling in the final season was like rookie mistake terrible.
6:22PM on 02/14/2011
I hated the Lost finale as it ruined the entire show for me, and, Tron Legacy was a big let down as well. I wasn't so upset about Lost not answering every question they just needed to find a way to make watching the whole show worth it, and not use the cop out that it's all about the characters when you have so many of them die unnecessary or un-heroic deaths (Charlie, Sayid, Farraday, Locke, Sun & Jin) or just not explain if they're alive or dead (Desmond). Everyone ending up in some weird
I hated the Lost finale as it ruined the entire show for me, and, Tron Legacy was a big let down as well. I wasn't so upset about Lost not answering every question they just needed to find a way to make watching the whole show worth it, and not use the cop out that it's all about the characters when you have so many of them die unnecessary or un-heroic deaths (Charlie, Sayid, Farraday, Locke, Sun & Jin) or just not explain if they're alive or dead (Desmond). Everyone ending up in some weird gnostic heaven was not the way to go. However, the two episodes "Dave" and "Trisha Tanaka is dead" were really good and the idea of Eerie Indiana meets Fables is intriguing. ABC was supposed to do a Fables series, I guess when that fell through they decided to carve up the story and still use parts of the premise and the most commercial aspects.
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5:56PM on 02/14/2011

Tidbit:

Nothing. Sure there were a few missteps and mysteries i would have liked to be answered, jacob's cabin and more on christian come to mind, but I love the show in spite of a few flaws. It was lindelof and cuse's story to tell and they told it beautifully. Who am I to say i could have done a better job? I couldn't and anyone who says they could is lying to themselves.
As for this new show, I'll be there day one. Sounds awesome. And tricia tanaka is dead is one of my favorite episodes of the
Nothing. Sure there were a few missteps and mysteries i would have liked to be answered, jacob's cabin and more on christian come to mind, but I love the show in spite of a few flaws. It was lindelof and cuse's story to tell and they told it beautifully. Who am I to say i could have done a better job? I couldn't and anyone who says they could is lying to themselves.
As for this new show, I'll be there day one. Sounds awesome. And tricia tanaka is dead is one of my favorite episodes of the series, glad they mentioned it.
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7:36PM on 02/14/2011
Damn straight.
Damn straight.
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