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Comic-Con 2011: 'Fringe' Executive Producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman (Q&A)

After a heart-stopping third season finale, the showrunners discuss what awaits them in Season 4, appreciation for “Twin Peaks” and how they’ll answer the probing Peter questions in San Diego.

J.H. Wyman and Jeff Pinkner
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
J.H. Wyman, left, and Jeff Pinkner

With hundreds of thousands of people attending San Diego Comic-Con every year and the July 20-24 event quickly approaching, The Hollywood Reporter chatted with the big names in television to discuss their favorite memories and tips for attending the annual event. THR’s Live Feed will talk Comic-Con with actors, writers and producers in the days leading up to the event so check back soon for interviews and the latest news on panels and screenings.

Jeff Pinkner
Geek Cred: Fringe, Lost, Alias, Profiler
J.H. Wyman
Geek Cred: Fringe

Comic-Con Panel: Fringe, Saturday, July 23, 4:30-5:15 p.m., Ballroom 20

The Hollywood Reporter: What stands out from your first Comic-Con experience?

Jeff Pinkner: I’ve been there with the show for three years, and I went once prior to that as a fan. After I got off the shuttle bus, three women barely dressed in some version of Xena were standing behind a 300-pound man dressed as Elmo. That was Comic-Con in a nutshell.

THR: What’s the best thing a fan has said to you at Comic-Con?

J.H. Wyman: This will be my third Comic-Con, and a fan once said to me, “I can’t believe you’re really you.” It reinforced that they’re actually near somebody that’s associated with running a show that they’re into and love. I think that was a really sweet way for them to say, “I trekked all the way here to San Diego and I can’t believe we actually standing here having a conversation about Fringe.”

Comic-Con 2011: Full THR Coverage

THR: Are you ready for the onslaught of questions, especially regarding Peter, at this year’s panel?

Pinkner: A lot of them will be laden with expletives. It will all become clear; not at Comic-Con, but once [the show] premieres. All the questions that involve the name Peter will probably be hard ones to field.

THR: There will be many questions of “Does Peter exist? Can you tell us?”

Pinkner: We’ll probably be faced with those questions. Our answer will probably be, “Who’s Peter?”

Q&A: 'Fringe' Executive Producer Calls Season 4 Renewal 'Gutsy'

THR: Who would be on your dream panel?

Wyman: Twin Peaks. I’d really like to talk to David Lynch. It’s my favorite show and it was groundbreaking.

THR: Were you satisfied with the way Twin Peaks ended?

Wyman: I think the first season was the most impactful. Now running a show and knowing what you’re up against, I do realize that a lot of people plan for failure but they don’t really plan for success. It’s really hard to keep something going. If you go back in that timeline, nobody had ever done anything like that. They were probably feeling it out as well.

To me, Twin Peaks was seminal because it was what it was. I feel that about a lot of filmmakers. It’s their prerogative to take the show where it goes and if I’m really a fan, I’m going to really get off the artistry of the artist that I’m watching. It’s not mine to judge, it’s mine to be involved and see it. Being apart of that it gave me so much pleasure that I don’t think it’s fair to say I wasn’t happy.

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THR: Do you have any tips on how to pull off a great presentation?

Wyman: It should always be something outrageous and entertaining as possible. People really give you a lot of leeway for the exceptional.

THR: If you were to dress up in costume for Comic-Con, who would you be?

Pinkner: Anything where I could carry a sword or a broad ax.

THR: Seth Gabel is a series regular. How is that dynamic going to change this season?

Pinkner: We just fell in love with him, which is why we wanted to bring him back. Thus far, we’ve spent very little time with one version of him, the Lincoln Lee on their side, so I think that we’ll probably want to explore his character as well.

THR: What’s ahead for Fringe in Season 4?

Wyman: It’s going to involve a couple of newer themes. We’re just taking you down the road a little further on the journey. You’ll be able to see people from the past and you’ll be able to meet new people throughout the season.
Pinkner: Season 3 was about Walter coming to terms with truly coming to terms with the consequences of the damage that he had done when he broke two universes in order to save his son’s life and recognizing that in order to fix that damage, he may have to sacrifice that son, which was the choice he made in 2026. Peter recognizing that based on the trajectory that his universe was on, the love of his life Olivia was going to die in 2026 and he made the heroic choice to overt that outcome and now all of our characters, we find them in a place where we’re dealing with the consequences.

Email: philiana.ng@thr.com