Inside the Unlucky/Lucky Life of 'Awake' Creator Kyle Killen
The quirky Texan writer behind acclaimed debacles "The Beaver" and TV's "Lone Star" is currently sleeping in his office as he attempts to break his streak with the new NBC drama.
The process of constructing the 13-episode first season has proved anything but simple, which became evident when Killen and Gordon asked the studio and network to shut down the show for a few weeks in October to work through some of the plot's complexities. "In a weird way, cancellation was a get-out-of-jail-free card on Lone Star. We were just getting rolling, so it never stopped being fun, but I have a feeling it was just about to get hard," Killen said of his first foray. "With Awake, it's been really challenging to make sure that you follow the rules of the two worlds and that you're always true to the concept."
What became increasingly clear as he and Gordon moved forward with Awake was that there was no owner's manual for what they were trying to do with a network show. Law & Order this was not. "We trade horrifying metaphors all the time: We are landing a plane that's on fire with no manual, or we are landing a plane with no wings and no manual," says Killen of his conversations with Gordon. "It depends on what day of the week it is and how equipped our plane is, but the key thing is that we never have a manual."
Still, Killen, along with his network and studio backers, is adamant that viewers will have an easier time following this show than they did Lone Star. Among the project's -- as well as Killen's -- biggest supporters is Salke, who has since moved to NBC, where she serves as Greenblatt's entertainment president. "Kyle is interested in complicated emotional states, but there's an elegance to the way that he executes those things that makes them go down like honey," she says, commenting as most do on both his focus and his intelligence.
But as the March 1 bow inches closer, the man whose Twitter profile reads, "I wrote that show that got canceled and that movie you didn't see," grows more jittery. "I'm hopeful and excited, sure, but you can't have had the particular experiences that I've had and not be a little nervous," says Killen, whose reps are prepared to take his next project to cable if this effort doesn't pan out. He shrugs and continues. "But if there is an unaired Awake festival some day, I know how that thing turns out too."
KILLEN'S TV ADVENTURE IN TWEETS: From the Twitter account of @Killen8, whose profile reads: "I wrote that show that got canceled and that movie you didn't see."
"The apocalypse must be nigh, Fox just picked up our show. Countdown until I start harassing you to watch starts … now."
-- On the pickup of Lone Star
"Someone gave me a plant so I would have a family between weekends. I named it Mojo and am taking it to dinner."
-- On his weekday home in Los Angeles
"Making my weekly trek from Austin to LA to write a show set in Houston and Midland that we shoot in Dallas. Efficient."
-- On the making of Lone Star
"Watching Giants game. Shot of Times Square. Still got a 4 story Lone Star billboard. Guess we paid in advance."
-- On the show's cancellation
"Office empty, car packed. 23 hour drive and it's officially over. Never realize how much you want to stay until you have to go. RIP Lone Star."
-- On the heartbreak post-Lone Star
"Dear internet, leaving country. Too cheap to pay for intl phone service. Let me know how the whole TV thing turns out. Will get u baguette."
-- On awaiting Awake's pickup as he traveled to Cannes for The Beaver
"Awake -- Thursday March 1 -- Appointment television for at least 40-50 of you. Only takes three aired episodes to crush our old record folks!"
-- On Awake's scheduling announcement