EXCLUSIVE: The strength and influence of Comic-Con for new TV series revealed its full powers in 2006 when a little show named Heroes came out of the confab with hit and buzz stamped all over it. The surge that the sci-fi drama had was a jolt to networks of the vast potential inside the San Diego Convention Center and paved the marketing way to the bonanza that sees The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones and Doctor Who fill the huge Hall H and new shows seek that Heroes juice. Almost a decade later Tim Kring is bring his second iteration of the show back to SDCC with Heroes Reborn set to make its Comic-Con debut on July 12.
Heroes alums Jack Coleman and Greg Grunberg will join the EP in Hall H along with co-stars Zachary Levi, Robbie Kay, Kiki Sukezane, Ryan Guzman, Gatlin Green, Judith Shekoni, Danika Yarosh, Rya Kihlstedt and Henry Zebrowski. With a couple of days to go and working on episode 8 of the 13-episode event series, Kring chatted with me about the return to one of Heroes’ greatest triumphs and the new September 24 debuting event series and the possibility of even more Heroes on NBC. In an exclusive to Deadline, the Touch and Dig producer also revealed more about the online Heroes Reborn: Dark Matter prequel of a sort series, whose first episode is set to launch on July 9 and a special preview of Sunday’s panel.
DEADLINE: So, with so many unknowns about Heroes Reborn, what can we expect from this week’s panel? Any surprises?
TIM KRING: I’ll just tell you that on the panel, we’re going to show an extended trailer of Heroes Reborn and we are going to show the whole first episode from Dark Matter, the digital prequel. It is the prequel that sort of leads up to the show itself, and it does in fact have a central character that will be in the show itself played by Henry Zebrowski. He’s the star of the digital series, and he will become a major character in the series itself. Dark Matter tells a story that connects up with the show in a really unique way. I don’t think anybody’s ever quite done a series that connects up to the show in the way this does. We’re obviously really looking forward to people seeing it, Hall H is just an extremely surreal experience.
DEADLINE: Heroes Reborn is set for a 13-episode run but do you see a way that could continue ever further?
KRING: Well, the assignment and what we discussed with NBC was an event, and what that does, it gives us the opportunity to do a closed-ended story that has a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and in this day and age with so many things to compete for people’s eyeballs and their attention on television, to log onto something that tells a finite story and has an end in sight I think gives the audience that peace of mind that they can jump on it without believing that it’s going to go on endlessly and maybe not pay off in the end.
That being said, the Heroes universe is a very big premise, and Heroes has always been able to reinvent itself and repopulate itself with new characters and new stories. We, on the original series, often told stores in volumes as it would have a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and so, in a sense, the real hardcore Heroes audience is already somewhat familiar with the idea of these smaller, contained stories. So in success and if we are invited back to the dance, I do believe we can build enough into this particular one to leave questions and empty road ahead of us for talking new story.
DEADLINE: So it sounds like there might be a Heroes relaunch coming in 2016 if it works?
KRING: Reborn again. Reborn again.
DEADLINE: You know more than most how much Comic-Con has changed over the year, how big it has gotten. Obviously you’ve been back with Heroes and other shows like Dig last year but what its coming back with Heroes Return like for you?
KRING: I have to say it’s a bit surreal, humbling, nostalgic, and emotional for me. Because when we went the first time, honestly, Heroes was just little more than a twinkle in my eye. Nobody had heard anything about it. Nobody had seen anything other than the people in a tiny little editing bay in Hollywood, and so no one knew a thing.
I don’t think it was Hall H back in 2006 but we packed a big, giant hall, and it was just the most extraordinary experience. We presented the first episode of the pilot, and it was amazing because I actually stood and watched the crowd watching the show instead of watching the show myself because I’d seen it a thousand times in the editing room. And then that crowd became just this huge, giant PR machine for our show. They went out, and talked about it, and created countless fan sites and generated this enormous amount of buzz that I think took all of us, including NBC, by storm. So this is really going back to ground zero for the show, for us. Hallowed ground.
DEADLINE: How do you think Comic-Con has changed since then?
KRING: What has changed is that it has become a bit more hyped and a bit more corporate certainly since then. In 2006, we got out of the van with the cast when we first showed up, and nobody gave us any talking points of anything to do. We just walked on the stage and had a panel. Now it’s a much more organized and a much more choreographed experience to go down to Comic-Con, and a little bit more handled by PR people and all that. But you know, when you hit the sweet spot of being the right show at the right time in Comic-Con, as Heroes was the first time, none of that matters. Then you really get the power of that venue and that convention to launch something.
DEADLINE: Superheroes and superpowers didn’t seem so prevalent back in 2006, it was the calm before the storm don’t you think?
KRING: We were a bit of a lone show out there starting off in this genre in mainstream television. Obviously, there was Smallville, and shows like that rode alongside us, but yeah, it is interesting now to come back when the field is so crowded. I’m hoping that Heroes and now Heroes Reborn still stands out. It’s really going to be about people dealing with the idea of having powers as opposed to the powers being always front and center, but yeah, it’s a completely different landscape out there now.
DEADLINE: Heroes Reborn sees some members of the Heroes cast back and some new characters, how hard was it to get everyone you wanted back and find the new actors?
KRING: What really dictated who we wanted was the story that we were telling. We didn’t know that we were going to want them until we got in and starting breaking story. Literally, a couple months into breaking story, it was like, wow, wouldn’t this be a great place to bring in Matt Parkman, who is played by Greg Grunberg. So then I picked up the phone and called Greg and said “s there any chance you can come in?”
In another case, clearly, we knew we wanted to deal with some time traveling elements. So that dictated that we try and get Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura onto the show, and so that’s how we approached it. But primarily the show is really a re-launch of the brand and with an almost entirely new cast. The former cast members, outside of Jack Coleman, play some parts in this this year, but smaller.
DEADLINE: Were you disappointed you didn’t get Zachary Quinto back?
KRING: Well, at first we did have a storyline that we wanted with him, and that was one of the first people I called. We had a long talk about his schedule and talked multiple times in the last six months, and so, yeah, I was disappointed, but in the end, we didn’t go too far down the road with the idea of having Sylar back in terms of the story.