“I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since middle school,” says Kyle Killen, though he adds, “I guess in the sense that you say you’re a writer once you start being paid for it, it’s been about four years.” His first produced screenplay was the Jodie Foster-directed black comedy “The Beaver,” and for TV he created and produced the FOX drama “Lone Star” and now NBC’s police drama “Awake.” This new series is about a detective (Jason Isaacs) living in two possible dream worlds following a life-altering car accident. In one world his wife (Laura Allen) survived the accident, while in the other his teenage son (Dylan Minnette) survived instead.
The concept of duality is one that Killen has explored in each of his projects: “Lone Star” told the story of a con artist juggling two identities, and “The Beaver” was about a man in a psychological crisis living through a hand-puppet. As he explains, “I think we can all relate to the idea that there are forks in the road and places where you choose to go one way and not another, and you can’t help but wonder what would happen had you taken the other path.”
“Lone Star” premiered in September 2010 as one of the most highly anticipated and acclaimed new series of the fall season, but it was abruptly cancelled by FOX after two low-rated episodes. “Awake” has also struggled in its Thursday night timeslot, and NBC has yet to announce whether the show will return for a second season, but the challenges of finding an audience have not put Killen off of working in television. “While ‘Lone Star’ being cancelled was certainly crushing,” he says, “it was an incredible experience making it … When I was offered the opportunity to create another show with the same people and the same studio, I didn’t hesitate for a second.”
He cites “Breaking Bad,” “The Sopranos,” and “Mad Men” as inspirations: “They are amazing examples of what television can do, and they’re really the reason that I wanted to get into TV. They show TV as a truly long form of telling a story, a way to do a story like a novel … It’s where we’ve aimed. I think we’re far from getting there, but shows like that give you something to chase after.”
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