TCA: 'Awake' Creator 'Hopeful' That it Won't be 'Lone Star' All Over Again

Kyle Killen Headshot 2011
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"You couldn’t decide if you liked or hated of him," Kyle Killen says of his canceled protagonist. "With Britten’s character [on 'Awake'], we’re all behind him. You want him to win."

Challenging. Complicated. High Concept.

The number of times such descriptors were employed by the cast and crew of NBC’s not-yet-scheduled dual-life drama Awake during its Friday press panel should be cause for concern.

Already, the critical darling from the creator of similarly complex and ultimately short-lived drama Lone Star, has been forced to take a three-week hiatus for its writers to get a handle on the story’s many facets. And now NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is using words like "tricky" to explain why the hotly anticipated series has yet to be granted an air date.

Among the challenges: how do you distill a complex that involves a man living in several different realities into a 30-second ad?

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The show's executive producer Howard Gordon, an expert in making hits out of complex fare (see 24, Homeland), gave it a shot during the series' stop on the Television Critics Association press tour. "He’s a guy who goes to sleep, wakes up, he’s with his wife; he goes to sleep, wakes up, he’s with his son," Gordon said of star Jason Isaac's character. "And he’s a cop who sees clues and details that cross over from one world to the next, and he uses that insight to solve crimes."

If it sounds complicated, that's because it is -- increasingly a trademark of creator Kyle Killen's work. So much so that the roomful of reporters wondered aloud why he would return to broadcast television after Lone Star, a beloved series that always felt more cable than it ever did broadcast.

"Lone Star didn’t ultimately find an audience, but the fact that a studio and a network were so enthusiastic about backing it and putting it out there made me sort of bullish on network," Killen responded. "And then literally to go from that being canceled to them saying, ‘Well, do you have anything else you can try?’ I actually feel fairly hopeful about the whole network process."

And to hear him tell it, Awake has several things going for it that Lone Star did not. Among them: a procedural style and a likeable protagonist. 

“I think there were aspects of Lone Star that were more difficult to get a wider, broader audience interested. The main character was an anti-hero... you couldn’t decide if you liked or hated of him,” Killen said of his first effort, before adding of his upcoming one: “With Britten’s character, we’re all behind him. You want him to win.”

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