July 07, 2014 7:00am PT by Philiana Ng
'Beauty and the Beast' Boss on 'Tense' Finale, Promises Romantic Season 3 (Q&A)
As the sophomore run nears its end, Beauty and the Beast is looking ahead to season three — and focus will be paid to the central romance between Catherine (Kristin Kreuk) and Vincent (Jay Ryan).
"Now that we have the loyal audience, the goal is to make it more Cat-Vincent centric," executive producer Brad Kern tells The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Monday's finale. "We'll continue to build the mythology. Everything else will service and work around that love."
Production wrapped weeks before The CW renewed Beauty. With the fate of his show unknown at the time, Kern, who had a previous experience on The WB's Charmed, approached the season's final hour with two goals in mind: wrapping up the season-long arc while planting enough seeds to tide viewers over.
The May 8 renewal came as somewhat of a shock — Kern even admitted to being "pleasantly surprised" — but The CW president Mark Pedowitz defended the network's pickup of a low-rated drama (over other bubble shows like The Tomorrow People), crediting a vocal fandom and Beauty's international bite for factoring into the decision to extend its life.
Kern talks to THR about giving Beauty's core audience what they want, focusing on Vincent and Cat's romance and the "tense" season-two closer.
How did you approach the finale, knowing — at the time — the fate of Beauty and the Beast was still up in the air?
We designed the season finale [in a certain way] because we didn’t know we were coming back, and we certainly knew we were on the bubble. Some people were convinced we were coming back. Some people were convinced we were going to be canceled. We designed the season-two finale to do two things: Reward the audience with an epic “series” finale — which we hoped wouldn’t be the case — and plant seeds that we could build off of if there was a season three.
What was your initial reaction?
I was pleasantly surprised [that we were coming] back, but I wasn’t shocked. The network was very happy with the creative direction of season two — they had seen the last six episodes, so they knew what we were doing and where it was headed. That’s something that obviously the audience didn’t know or didn’t see, so that factored into their decision. They know that the show has a very loyal following who watch every episode, and that matters.
Back in May, The CW president Mark Pedowitz called Beauty "a fan favorite" and had strong "social engagement." How much of the fans' response to certain characters, developments and arcs fuel the trajectory of the season?
My job is to keep an eye on what the loyal audience likes, especially on a show like this where there is only the loyal audience, really, who watches on a weekly basis. The mandate from season one to season two was to try to reach out beyond the loyal fan base because the show barely got picked up for season two. We pretty much ended the season with the same amount of viewers, give or take, that we had at the beginning of the season. Now that we’ve tried to reach out beyond the loyal fan base and have had checkered success with that, giving them more of what they want is absolutely something that we want to be doing going forward.
Have you had conversations with the network and studio about ways to expand the core audience next season?
We haven’t had that conversation, but the network wanted us to expand the audience and direction of the show to try to appeal to a broader audience last season. As I said, we pretty much have the same loyal viewers watching every week, but we didn’t really reach beyond it. It’s kind of hard to imagine that we’re going to be able to reach a new audience in season three. I think that my emphasis will be to — as shown in the last six or seven episodes of season two — drive the show’s direction more into what the loyal audience would like to see because that’s who watches the show.
More focus on Vincent and Cat?
It['ll be] mostly about Cat and Vincent’s love. The design last year was to break them apart for a while to try to establish separate characters and to build the separate characters and to bring them back together stronger. The design of the season as kind of interrupted unwittingly. We were supposed to air those last six or seven episodes right after in continuity, and we found out at the last second that they were going to hold those last six episodes. That wasn’t the design. We would have changed the setup if we had known there was going to be a two month break. The goal now is to try and focus on the Cat and Vincent love and challenge it to help them grow as a couple, as opposed to try to break them apart.
Since you also approached the finale sort of like a series closer, how satisfying would it have been for the fans as a finite ending?
On season seven of Charmed, we didn’t know if we were going to be picked up for an eighth season. I had to do a hybrid season finale. You’re kind of neither here nor there. Having learned form that, we tried to make this absolutely rewarding, closing a chapter on the first two years but also setting up what could be the next chapter of their adventure or journey. It’s hard for me to say objectively. We had pitched [The CW] what would happen in season three, but we were working in a vacuum not knowing whether it was the end or if it continued. We’ll leave it to the audience to decide if it would have worked.
You're bringing Nicole Gale Anderson on as a series regular for season three. Will other recurring characters be bumped up?
They all have to survive the season finale first to answer that question. We wanted Nicole back for season two, but she got [ABC Family's now-canceled] Ravenswood. As soon as she was available, we brought her back. We think she’s an important part of the show to develop Cat’s character and her family background better. That’s something we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted to. But Nicole’s a terrific actress and her character is cool. That’s why we grabbed her before she took another series to make sure we got her for season three.
How would you describe the finale?
We have a tense season finale that will hopefully put the audience on the edge of their seats, emotionally as well. I think it’s safe to say that the core of Beauty and the Beast will be what the focus of season three becomes.
Beauty and the Beast wraps season two Monday at 9 p.m. on The CW.