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March 19, 2008

'Chuck' vs. the Paley Festival


By James Hibberd

"Chuck" vs. the Writers Strike

A question from a Paley Festival audience member for "Chuck" co-creator Josh Schwartz:

"Do you think Chuck is going to be able to keep his zen attitude, even as he continues to investigate grisly crimes in Los Angeles?"

Awkward pause.

"Um, that's not us," Schwartz says. "That's another NBC show -- 'Life.'"

Another question: "Couldn't Chuck solve his problem by just traveling back in time and not opening the email that downloaded the government secrets into his brain?"

"Uh, yeah, Chuck can't time travel," Schwartz says. "You're thinking of NBC's 'Journeyman.'"

OK ... so that exchange didn't actually happen.

But, c'mon. It's tough enough to keep track of where the shows disrupted by the writers strike left off now. How fuzzy are viewers going to be when "Chuck," "Life," "Pushing Daisies" and other freshman shows return in the fall after nearly a year off the air?

That's a question that Schwartz does address (yes, for realsies this time).

"The idea is to reset the show [next season] and remind viewer where we left off, what they've missed, and take it up a notch," Schwartz says.

"Chuck" vs. the Backstory

Co-creator Chris Fedak says he was partly inspired by trying to combine an everyday work environment with a hard-core government agent. He was thinking about "how terrifying it would be if Jack Bauer came into your office, because you just know somebody is going to get tortured."

Schwartz: "I always wanted to do a show about guys in their 20s figuring out their life. That's always tough to do. But if the guy is being attacked by a ninja ..."

For the pilot, originally Chuck had another love interest, the requisite girl next door. But the story wasn't quite working. How can Chuck be pining for his long lost college girlfriend, and fall for his new superagent love interest and want the next door neighbor? So the entire next door neighbor was cut from the pilot, and then everything clicked.

Castchuck"Chuck" vs. "Lost"

"Lost" showrunner Damon Lindelof is the moderator for the "Chuck" panel.

In pure geek terms, this is sort of like Batman moderating a panel for the Green Lantern. 

Not that Green Lantern isn't great and all but, boy, you really want to lob a few questions at that moderator about all the stuff he's got going on.

Luckily, there is one gem for the "Losties." Schwartz asks Lindelof about the shot of the infamous what-the-hell-is-that-all-about massive four-toed statue on the "Lost" island. At the time, and now, the statue seemed like a nasty prank by a departing "Lost" staff writer: "Ha, let next season's writers try to figure a way out of this one." ("Chuck" cast and crew. Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry)

Lindelof says he got a note back from the network on the statue that read "this is too weird." It's not a bad point. But then the network suggested a six-toed statue instead. Thus, the conversation descended into, really, is a six-toed statue less weird than a four-toed statue?

A "Chuck"-related note from the network: NBC shot down naming a character "Poon."

"Chuck" vs. the Future

The show is going back into production in May.

There will be a six-part "Chuck" comic-book unveiled at Comic-Con.

Star Zachary Levi and co-star Joshua Gomez quickly prove they have legitimate geek-bonding credibility, bantering about "Call of Duty" and Godzilla vs. Voltron at a moment's notice (Levi insists Voltron would win).
(Adam Baldwin, left, McG and  Ryan McPartlin on the panel. Photo courtesy of Kevin Parry)

Since production halted, Gomez got rid of his beard, while Levi has grown one.

"Everybody thought it was a strike beard, but I just don't like to shave," Levi says. "It would be kind of fun to--"

"No beard," immediately shoots down Schwartz.

"Zach in season two is already in his artist phase," teases producer McG.

Lindelof recalls a piece of advice from working on "Nash Bridges" that went something like: "Never-ever name a show after the title character because you are writing a blank check for the lead actor to be an egotistical asshole" and asks if "Chuck" was always the show's name.

Fedak says no. He thought the name "Chuck" was "the worst most terrible name in the world." He was trying to come up with something more clever, more mysterious.

When begged for an example, he offers up the title "Scenario 5."

Lindelof asks some nicely wacky "Inside the Actors Studio" questions that, according to Google, have actually been asked by the show's host James Lipton.

Lindelof asks Schwartz this one: "If heaven exists, what would you most like to hear God say to you when you arrive?"

Schwartz pauses.

"'Chuck' has been picked up for season three," he says.


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OMG~~ I cannot believe Chuck will be on air again :D~~~
I'm so happy!!! but when in May will come up again???

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