USA Today Profiles Pushing Daisies
Pushing Daisies may be easier to watch than it is to describe.
In a medium that thrives on the cut-and-dried, the new ABC fall series is part romantic fantasy, part comedy and partly a whimsical take on crime-solving.
And it concerns itself with death, or rather, undeath: Its hero, Ned (Lee Pace) a pie-shop owner who can bring the dead back to life with a touch of his finger helps a detective solve murder cases by interviewing the victims. One of them, it turns out, is his childhood sweetheart, but their love must remain unrequited. If he kisses or even touches her again, she'll die for good.
"I always feel so stupid, like I'm not doing the show justice, when you try to say, 'I play Ned, who can touch dead people and bring them back to life, but if I touch them a second time, then they die. And if I keep them alive for more than a minute, then someone else will die,'" says Pace. "It makes it sound like CSI with a twist. It's a really tricky one to describe."
Therefore, ABC would just as soon not bother.
"Certain people are going to tap into the procedural (murder story) and love that, other people are going to get swept away in the romance, some people will like the magical realism elements or the comedy of it, and hopefully some people will love it all," ABC Entertainment chief Stephen McPherson says.
Due Wednesdays at 8 ET/PT starting Oct. 3, this ABC comic drama is a visually stunning fairy tale: colorful, life-affirming and dripping with cinematic flourishes, courtesy of creator Bryan Fuller and director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black).
In a new season full of more shows about cops, lawyers and sexy doctors, Daisies is a genre-busting standout, already embraced by many critics as the best of the freshman crop, but labeled by just as many as a hard sell.
Marketing the show to viewers is "definitely a challenge," says the network's promo chief, Mike Benson, "but for us, it's really about selling the magical romance of the show. We're really trying to sell an overall feeling rather than trying to make them understand exactly what it's about."
But pushing Daisies is a top priority for ABC, which is using the show to kick-start an all-new Wednesday lineup, where it will be followed by Private Practice, the Grey's Anatomy spinoff. On Thursday, ABC held a public screening of the pilot episode at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, and it has arranged for florists to push some daisies of their own.
Ironing out on-set wrinkles
There are some first-day hiccups as the show begins production on a hot day late last month on the Warner Bros. lot. "Who's going to be adorable?" Sonnenfeld coos to Pace and British actress Anna Friel, who plays Chuck, but he warns, "Guys, be very aware of not touching each other or getting even close."
They're filming a scene at the Pie Hole, with its pastry-crust roof and cherry light fixtures, rolling dough for a three-berry as a golden retriever who plays Ned's dog, Digby, naps off-camera nearby. After multiple takes, the dough is getting thin and sticky, requiring more flour.
Finally nailing the scene, Pace and Friel return to their dressing-room trailers outside, where Friel plans to wash her powdery hands.
The water has been turned off, so she asks an assistant to restore it. Problem is, Pace's faucet has been left open next door, so his trailer begins flooding. Meanwhile, co-star Kristin Chenoweth's SUV has been covered in toilet paper by her admirer and former employer, West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin.
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