I was part of a online press conference with a couple of the principals of Jericho, Jon Turteltaub (executive producer) and Skeet Ulrich (star). Here are some of the excerpted questions and comments.

As a fan of your last regular tv work, Miracles, I was wondering what draws you to material like Miracles and Jericho?
Skeet: I was intrigued by the idea of these people put into extraordinary circumstances. The idea of how society get structured: who decides what’s important; what do we need and in what order do we need it. Also, things we dread. This fear. How do we approach it? How do we overcome it?

What are some of the spiritual implications of the show? What are the themes it meditates on?
Jon: Who are we really? If you take away the things that we are used to … if we don’t have cell phones to deal with, if we don’t have money to deal with, if we don’t going to the grocery store to deal with. Also the show gets into the notion of structure. If you take away the institutions on which we hang our morality, when you don’t have someone telling you what is wright or wrong … do people become open and more trusting or do they become distrusting … There are many moral and spiritual questions. Spirituality has some of the answers, but some of the people find their answers in very practical ways.

Jon: If you are taking the social gloves off … would you go crazy or would you try to maintain order? … There is a certain amount of freedom that comes with the end of the world. Would you really be happy with that freedom, what are the dangers of that freedom, and what would you do with that freedom.

Where would you like to see your character go?
Skeet: I’m interested in playing someone who grows, someone who is continually learning and helping.

Jon: The mystery of Jake is not where he’s going, but where he’s been.

What sells better, appeals more, to an audience? Character driven work or action?
Jon: Start with character. Audiences start with characters. They want the story of the people. Action is about putting the character in jeopardy in an active way. The show is not sustained with action, it’s not going to be like 24.

As a follow up, there is rotating attention to each character. Is that deliberate?
Jon: I will give you and insider and a dramatic answer to this question. The dramatic answer is that we’re creating a community. Jericho is a character also. To get a sense of a town you have to get a sense of the people. The insider answer: you make contracts with acters and not every actor is contracted for every episode.

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