Press Conference Coverage: Executive Producers and Writers Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt Discuss Grimm and the World of Network Television Horror
NBC is gearing up to premiere its latest foray into genre programming on Friday, October 28th: "Grimm," a new police procedural inspired by the classic Grimms’ fairy tales that centers around Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli; Turn The Beat Around, Camera Obscura), who discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as "Grimms" that have been charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world.
As Nick struggles to hide the dangers of his newfound calling from his fiancée, Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch; "Quarterlife"), and his partner, Hank (Russell Hornsby; "Fear Itself," Stuck), he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries and alliances of the Grimm world.
With help from his confidant, Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell, "Prison Break"), a reformed Grimm creature himself, Nick must navigate through the forces of a larger-than-life mythology while facing off with Hexenbiests, Blutbads and all manner of ancient evils including royal lines dating back to the original profilers themselves, the Grimm Brothers.
When it comes to bringing genre-infused network programming to life, you can't ask for two better people to be involved than Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, both of are acting as writers/executive producers on NBC's "Grimm." Greenwalt has worked on numerous cult classic shows including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "The X-Files" as well as the highly underrated Adrian Pasdar-starring series "Profit"; and Kouf has written and produced for the long-running CBS hit "The Ghost Whisperer" as well as written several classic 1980s films including The Hidden, The Boogens and Stakeout.
Both Kouf and Greenwalt were also heavily involved with Joss Whedon's "Angel" for a number of years, serving as executive and consulting producers on the series as well as writers for several episodes. It's safe to say this duo know a thing or two about delivering top-notch genre entertainment on a weekly basis.
Recently Dread Central was invited to take part in an hour-long press conference style roundtable interview with both Kouf and Greenwalt to talk about their latest collaboration, why the time was right for "Grimm" and why good stories will always endure above anything else.
Check out some of the highlights from our conference call with Kouf and Greenwalt as well as a special 20-minute extended preview of the pilot below, and make sure to tune in to "Grimm" when it premieres this Friday, October 28th, at 9/8 CST on NBC.
Journalist: David, can you talk about where the idea of the extended world of the Grimm fairy tales came from?
David Greenwalt: "Originally Jim Kouf and I were approached by Hazy Mills, which is Todd Milliner and Sean Hayes' company, and Todd had this great idea about doing something in the modern world with the Brothers Grimm, and we flipped for the idea. So we came up with the notion of how to marry that mythology into the modern world with the idea that the original Brothers Grimm were in fact profilers and that the stories they were telling were true on some basic deep level."
"So we came up with the notion that in our world of the Grimm there would only be one world- there wouldn’t be a fairy tale world and a real world; there would just be our world. And in our world lived these creatures who can only be seen by our hero. For example, he can see the big bad wolf inside the child molester. So it’s sort of a marriage of a police procedural and a mythological fracturing fairy tale every week."
Journalist: So why do you think that the world of fairy tales has endured so long and continues to drive people’s imaginations even now?
Greenwalt: "Fairy tales appeal to people of all ages, and it appeals to people in different ways at different times. You know, the big bad wolf is a cautionary tale for don’t talk to strangers, go straight to grandma’s house- that kind of stuff.
Jim Kouf: "Hansel and Gretel could be considered a cautionary tale for parents who are raising children and don’t have enough money to feed them. Don’t bring them in the woods. You know, a lot of those tales spoke of the times that people were living in back then, and they can relate to a lot of things people are going through now."
Greenwalt: "There’s a delight in fairy tales for people of all ages because when you’re a kid, fairy tales really provide a great way to talk about that kind of stuff, and usually good triumphs. I mean, not always, but usually good triumphs and the evil is vanquished. It’s great to read a fairy tale when you’re a kid and also to read fairy tales to children when you’re older; there's just something about the idea of sitting around the campfire and telling a story. It’s an oral tradition that seems ancient and has lasted all this time because we still love these stories.
Journalist: "Grimm" seems to have somewhat of a procedural element to it; is there also going to be a season-long story arc or something like that involved?
Kouf: "Both actually."
Greenwalt: "All of the above. There will be week-to-week episodic tales that you can just enjoy like opening a book and reading a fairy tale, and there will also be seasonal arcs involved in the show as well."
Journalist: Oh, like a big bad similar to what was done on "Buffy" and "Angel?"
Greenwalt: "Well, you know, the big bad comes in a little different form in 'Grimm' because we’re presenting some characters that appear to be bad but may actually have some good agendas- you know, a little more mix of good and bad in the characters that our main character Nick will go up against."
Journalist: I was wondering if you can give us an indication of what Episodes 2 and 3 are going to be like?
Greenwalt: "Yes, we absolutely could give you an indication of Episodes 2 and 3. One will involve a retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and one will involve bees, like thousands of bees."
Journalist: What tale is that?
Kouf: "Well, we’re taking little bits and pieces from a lot of fairy tales. So you may not actually recognize the fairy tale we’re drawing from because some are not that well known. There’s one called the Queen Bee, and it’s not one that everybody can recall immediately, but we liked it and decided to use it."
Journalist: It seems like in the last 15 or 20 years it’s become very popular to sort of look at the academic side of fantasy and horror. I mean, I know that way back when some people were dissecting "Buffy" episodes for college credit. But this has really stepped up in the last couple of years, and I’m wondering if, when you’re crafting a show like this, you’re sort of taking a more academic approach to mythology or if, as George Romero once said, “Sometimes a zombie is just a zombie.”
Kouf: "Well, we’re not thinking in terms of how we’re going to teach the series. We’re just at least trying to have a lot of fun and create something that’s very entertaining that people will enjoy with good solid characters that have emotional flare to them."
Greenwalt: "One of the things that’s really fun about genre is how people project onto genre in different ways what they themselves are feeling. And you never quite know what’s going to be successful or not either, depending on how people respond to it. I remember way back when after we'd done 'Buffy' for a while where they were actually having college courses, and Buffy is an iconic female character so that was great. It was a little surprising, but it was great."
"But I don’t think you can really take an academic approach to this kind of work as a whole. I think you have to say, 'What’s really scary? What’s really fun? What’s a little different that maybe I haven’t seen before?' It’s kind of a strange paradox but one that’s really powerful."
Journalist: David, you’ve worked on "Buffy" and "Angel" and Jim, you worked on "Angel" and "Ghost Whisperer". What draws you both to supernatural television?
Kouf: "You know, I think we’re just drawn in by the stories. We started our careers together way back when doing movies like Class or Secret Admirer, features like that. And we’re always just drawn to the story whether it’s genre or not. You know, genre is just having the rules changed up a little bit but where you’re still trying to tell emotional stories with real people in them."
Greenwalt: "And the fun of 'Grimm' is what happens to this young man who’s a robbery and homicide detective who suddenly starts 'seeing things' and at first thinks he’s losing his mind. He’s starting to seeing critters or creatures within 'normal human beings', and that idea really grabbed us as a great way to tell a story and a great way to explain some pretty heinous things that go in in the world that seem inexplicable otherwise."
Journalist: Speaking of "Buffy," "Angel" and "Ghost Whisperer", is there anything particularly from those shows that you worked on before that you wanted to bring to "Grimm"?
Greenwalt: "What’s kind of great about 'Grimm' is that there’s something familiar overall to the tales and something that we all can recognize from either when we were kids or reading to our own kids. So it just seemed like a very special idea to mix that with the police procedural because it seemed to us like that would be a casserole. A really gruesome casserole, too, even though we’re still not going quite as gruesome as the original tales are. But 'Grimm' is definitely showing a dark underbelly of life, just leavened with humor and action."
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