I have comments from Ben Silverman and Chris Fedak on the "Chuck" renewal up at NJ.com, including the bizarre moment when Silverman told me "It's because of you" that "Chuck" is back(*). After the jump, the transcript of my conversation with Fedak:
(*) Keep in mind that I was also the first one asking a "Chuck" question. While I wrote my open letter, credit should go to a whole lot of people, including Mo Ryan, Give Me My Remote, Fienberg, Joe Adalian, Chuck TV, and, especially, Wendy Farrington, who came up with the Subway campaign in the first place.
Anyway, on to Fedak...
How you feeling?
Feeling great. Josh (Schwartz) and I and the entire cast and crew are so excited to be coming back. We were so excited to continue this story, keep telling Chuck Bartowski adventures.
How close do you think the show came to not coming back?
I think there was always the chance that we would not show up on the schedule. I'm a neurotic person by nature, and a nervous person by nature. The fact that there wasn't an announcement (at the NBC "infront" earlier this month), there was definitely cause for concern. But I was emboldened by the fact that we had such great critical support, and we had the best fans in the universe.
And they all went to Subway.
That was such a great idea. When it comes to great ideas for promoting the show, that was an excellent idea.
When you did that initial scene where Morgan bought Big Mike the sandwich, did you have any idea it might lead to this?
I don't think we thought that that integration would be one of the lynchpins of us returning for a third season.
How will the expanded sponsorship deal with Subway work?
We're still hashing out the details of how that's going to work. But we're excited. Looking at the last two seasons, we've always had fun with the idea of product integration.
Are we going to see a character working at Subway, like Sarah, or Morgan, if the Benihana thing falls through?
That's a possibility
There were all these reports that the pick-up was going to lead to a tighter budget. Is that going to happen?
I think if you look at TV shows across the board, there's been contraction for most shows. However, for any type of budget cuts we've looked at, Josh and I are committed to delivering the same show. The same level of entertainment you guys saw last season, you'll get next year.
Well, what's the situation with the cast going to be? Will everyone be back? Will they be in every episode?
We look forward to bringing our cast back. Because the episode order is for 13, we need to tell our story in a little different way, so you might not see every one of our castmembers in every episode, but that means when we do see them, they'll get more time in that particular story.
(NOTE: Most of the supporting cast wasn't in every episode for season two, either, so this may not be that big of a change.)
You and Josh had already mapped out season three's storyline when you thought you might be doing 22 episodes. How much does the 13-episode order change that plan?
It doesn't change.
Well, one of the things that was great about this past season was that, while you told a lot of big story arc episodes, you were also able to do standalones like "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer" that had little to do with anything but were a lot of fun. Will you still be able to do that if you're squeezing things into 13?
Yes, we will have room to do standalone episodes. I think that it doesn't change the overall story, but it does change how we structure the story, but we still will do standalone episodes.
Ben also said there's a chance he might order more than 13 and extend you into the summer. Would you be prepared for that?
We are prepared for that if it happens. It just means that we tell more story.
How concerned are you about being off the air for so long?
Obviously, 10 months is a long time. But it is exciting to come back with the idea of the Winter Olympics as a launching pad. We had a long break because of the strike going into season two, and season two was fantastic. We look forward exceeding everyone's expectations for a mid-season launch.
Ben mentioned a plan to give the show a presence online in the fall. What do you know about that?
We're in very preliminary discussions on that at this point.
Given how vague you were when we talked after the finale, I'm guessing you don't want to say too much more about next season. But given how long we're all going to have to wait, is there anything you can tell the fans about next season that might in some way sate their appetites?
I will say this: Season three will not be lacking in romance.