From Ray Richmond, who has been contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
The word for months has been that the big, expensive new Fox drama series Terra Nova has been a show out of control, rife with cost overruns and writing staff replacements and, well, issues. The two-hour pilot had been ascribed a $14 million price tag, and it showed in the cinematic first trailer for the series, screened at the top of the presentation, which looked a lot like Avatar with the aerial shots and Avatar star Stephen Lang playing a role similar to the one in James Cameron’s blockbuster. But at an afternoon session promoting the show during Fox’s day at TCA, the producers downplayed all of the alleged issues, explaining that they emerged after the decision was made last year to move the production to Australia. “We had one writing staff change and that was really it,” insisted exec producer Brannon Braga.

“That rumor probably came out of the production delay, where it took us a little more time casting and finding a shooting location,” executive producer Rene Echevarria believes. “Because of the three-month delay, a lot of the writers had to move on to other projects in the interim. The challenge of casting a family took time, too.” Added Braga, “It wasn’t a matter of firing people and bringing others in.”

Chimed in exec producer/director Alex Graves: “It did take longer than expected to mount this. Creating a show is like giving birth, with labor pains and everything else. This show is like a big baby.”

Then there were the well-documented weather issues in Australia during production of the show whose executive producers include a couple of guys named Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin. Incessant rains and flooding caused production delays, Graves explained. But the show will nonetheless begin to roll out as a two-night event on May 23 and 24, an hour each night, following the journey of an ordinary family back in time to prehistoric Earth.

How involved has Spielberg been in the production? Very, said Braga. “Every idea he comes up with is ingenious, and we want his feedback. Of course, it’s a little terrifying thinking that he’s watching over everything you do. But our interaction with him could not have been more positive.”