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‘Sleepy Hollow’ Creators Dish on The Show – “There is Nothing Like it on Television”

Sleepy Hollow Interview

In a modern-day twist Fox’s new hit, Sleepy Hollow, updates the classic Washington Irving story to bring a more modern twist. Ichabod Crane “dies” in 1781 during the Revolutionary War right after slicing the head off of an unknown soldier. He rises again in modern day Sleepy Hollow after the Headless Horseman is summoned back to life. What takes place after that is just chaos. Creators and Executive Producers, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci sat down to discuss what’s head this season.

Q: Can you just talk about how you came up with the concept and how the whole thing came together?

Orci: Sure. Well, a young and very talented man named Phil Iscove, who at the time was an assistant at UTA, came in and said, “You know, I had this idea of doing a modern day Sleepy Hollow and maybe the way to get into modern day is to fuse it with a lot of the ideas in Rip Van Winkle, and you know the idea would be that Ichabod Crane was put to sleep in some way and woke up 250 years after the Revolutionary War,” and we said, “Where do we sign up?”

So from that point, we started developing it together over the course of about eight months. When we pitched it to FOX, they jumped on it right away, which was great because that was really our hope; it just felt like the exact right network for the show. They have been wildly supportive since we started and it’s been this kind of wonderful, crazy evolution to where we are now.

Q: When you look at a Hawaii Five-O, a Star Trek, a Spider Man, now a Sleepy Hollow, what sort of excites you guys about retelling or reimagining these already sort of popular stories?

Kurtzman: Well, I think one thing is that so many of the stories that interest us tend to be timeless stories. They have existed and continued in different iterations over many generations because they say something enduring about the world that we live in and about who we are. Sleepy Hollow, particularly, was exciting to us because, speaking personally, Halloween is my favorite holiday. My house is basically like a Halloween 365 days a year with my son. And so the idea of getting to live in that kind of world and getting to live in that kind of universe is just sort of delicious conceptually. Bob and I are really excited by the idea of getting to fuse the horror genre with a cop procedural, which is such a staple of television, and bring kind of a new spin to it because we also get to tell much of our story in the past. So, on top of the cases of the week, the solutions to the modern day story is to look to the past, and he idea being that if you don’t learn from the past, you’re doomed to repeat it. So, we get to do flashbacks, we get to tell stories over different centuries and I think anybody who loves genre would feel that delicious prospect.

Q: What is the setting for Sleepy Hollow and how does that play into the type of cases that Abbie will be investigating or working on?

Orci: Actually, a biblical number of 144,000, which has some relevance biblically, but the idea is the pilot and the series, you are watching a small town with small town problems become a small town with big city problems…So it had to be just the right size to have a familiarity with the habitants with each other, but not everyone knows each other by name. So, it’s between a city and a town.

Q: Hey, so what do we have to look forward to with this first season as we go forth?

Kurtzman: Well, my goodness, an enormous amount of fun, a lot of scares, a lot of humor. There is really nothing like it on television. You know, we tell our stories in the present and in the past, so the story telling spans over 250 years. Over 2.5 centuries. The other thing is that I think that television is in this remarkable moment right now, like some of the best writing, some of the best acting, some of the best directing is on television. It is really in this renaissance period and I think that one of the shows actually that I loved this year, in the last two years, actually, was Homeland. The thing that I loved about Homeland so much, one of the many things is that every episode could’ve been the finale; every single episode. You get to the end, you’re like, “Oh my God, how, that’s got to be the end of the season,” but it’s only episode two. It kind of set a new standard in the way stories were being told and I think we embraced that fully. So, we have jumped into the deep end of the pool knowing that our premise is sort of one molecule away from insanity at all times, but we are keeping it tethered to a grounded, emotional reality that I think hopefully allows you to buy into it and to really live in the world.

We have a tremendous cast. They certainly make it as credible as you could have ever imagined. The directing has been phenomenal. The show is massive. The line between movies and television is gone these days. It’s just gone. And so when people watch TV, I think they are, particularly in genre shows like this, I think they are hoping for a real cinematic experience and that is what we are intending to deliver to them every week.

Q: You are also working on a program for Robert Rodriguez…. Anything new about that?

Kurtzman: We are in the middle of writing a pilot.

Catch Sleepy Hollow on Mondays at 9pm EST on FOX

Photo Courtesy of ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Brownie Harris/FOX

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About the Author

Monica Gleberman began writing in 2000. She has been published on CNN and in the Suffolk Times, Examiner, The Daily Collegian, Demand Studios, Patch, and The Tattoo.

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