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Making Event TV

The Event’s Steve Stark

Having made the jump from studio executive to producer, Steve Stark developed CBS’ supernatural cop series Medium among others. He struck out on his own two years ago creating Steve Stark Productions, which has already made four TV pilots. In a tough slot, his serialised drama The Event has got off to a mixed start. But it has been given a full series order by NBC and already sold the world over. Stark talks to TBI about the show, Twitter, those 24-comparisons and making TV Sudoku.

The Event generated a lot of buzz ahead of launch and internationally at the LA Screenings, but it’s in a super-tough slot isn’t it?

Yes, it’s against Dancing with the Stars, Two and a Half Men and Monday Night Football. The amazing thing is that all four shows are working.

Didn’t the idea for the show come about a few years ago?

Yes, the script was written on spec five years ago. We took it out, but it didn’t sell, people said it was too serialised, too scary, too risky and was swinging for the fences too much.

After that I had a cop show with NBC, but they said they didn’t want another cop series, but said what they didn’t have was a big event series. I gave them the script for The Event and told them: ‘If you don’t want a big event show don’t read it’. It’s now on air and that was less than a year ago.

A lot of the hype about the show references other series – have you been conscious of the 24 and Lost comparisons?

Yes, we have a whole back-story for the concept and I think it had a Lost mythology type thing going on. And we hired the 24 showrunner Evan Katz so it has evolved into more of a 24-type show. It also has elements of 70s conspiracy thrillers.

After a period in which serialised shows were popular, US network TV seems to have gone back to serialised shows. What does that mean for The Event?

Part of the fun with the show is that it is interactive – it’s a puzzle – it’s Sudoku – it’s challenging. There will be loyalists to the show and some people will say ‘it’s too much for me’.

Have you mapped out a story arc over a certain number of seasons?

I’m very much a planner. Before it was sold to NBC I had a plan. But things change and evolve and they’re not set in stone. If it’s too rigid you can’t adapt it to audience feedback. So, we’re marching forward with a plan, but will change it as we go along.

You were answering questions on Twitter while the first episode went out. Does that kinds of audience interaction help a show?

How much it helps I don’t know, but in terms of investing something in the show it helps.

NBC’s programme sales arm have sold the show into 200 territories – do you ever factor in the fact the show will have a large international audience?

I don’t think about it. I feel like if the show works in one territory and has universal themes, it will work overseas. All I can be concerned about is the show.