Enver Gjokaj as Agent Daniel Sousa, Chad Michael Murray as Agent Jack Thompson, Shea Whigham as Chief Roger Dooley and Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Bob D'Amico

Enver Gjokaj as Agent Daniel Sousa, Chad Michael Murray as Agent Jack Thompson, Shea Whigham as Chief Roger Dooley and Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter in MARVEL'S AGENT CARTER | © 2015 ABC/Bob D'Amico

ABC is keeping the writing/executive-producing team of Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas very busy. The duo remain as show runners on the supernatural drama RESURRECTION, in its second season Sundays at 9 PM, and are also show runners on the new MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER, which has its two-hour premiere Tuesday at 8 PM before settling into its regular 9 PM slot.

AGENT CARTER stars Hayley Atwell as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Peggy Carter, introduced as the WWII-era colleague and love interest of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, in 2011’s feature CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. With Cap missing and feared dead in the Forties (the audience knows he’ll be found and revived in the twenty-first century), it’s up to Carter to fight against the sinister forces of the Nazi-based HYDRA organization.

Fazekas and Butters created the dark comedy/fantasy series REAPER, about a young man who discovers his parents sold his soul to the Devil. They have also worked together on LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, the current reboot of HAWAII FIVE-0 and DOLLHOUSE (which was created by Joss Whedon, who also developed AGENT CARTER’s sister show MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen).

ASSIGNMENT X: What’s the balance on AGENT CARTER between writing it for Marvel-verse fans and accessibility to newcomers?

MICHELE FAZEKAS: Kind of balance of, we will live in our own universe, so we touch on all these others.

TARA BUTTERS: But also, it’s important for us to do a show that both will speak to the fans of Marvel and have things for them to recognize and sort of reward their fandom, but also do a show that you don’t have to know anything about Marvel to enjoy the show.

AX: Do you have to be more budget-conscious in the writing than you would on a contemporary series, because everything is going to be period, so production is going to have to go out and find or make all the World War Two-era props, costumes, et cetera?

FAZEKAS: I always try to first approach the story as, “What is the best story we want to tell?” Then it’s our job as the producer to find a way to do that in a production-friendly way.

BUTTERS: We did REAPER at The CW on a very small budget, and we had a very small visual effects budget and a very small special effects budget, and you have to be smart about it. You can either spend your money on a lot of things that aren’t very good, or on a couple of things that are great. So I’m not so much worried about that, because I know that if you’re judicious about it, it can be good.

FAZEKAS: And ABC and Marvel are being very protective of the show, and I believe that they will give us a budget that will appropriately allow us to do the best version of this show. And actually, we’re very grateful to them. They’re very supportive.

AX: It looks as though you’re using your REAPER Devil, Ray Wise, on AGENT CARTER …

BUTTERS: I would love to work with him on anything.

FAZEKAS: Yeah.

BUTTERS: I’ll be honest – everybody from REAPER, we work with whenever we can. We’ve actually worked with Rick Gonzalez on multiple projects. We tried to cast Ray when we were on CHAOS briefly, but he was unavailable. But any of them, any time we can put them in something, we do. It’s a great group of people.

AX: Speaking of REAPER, sadly, Fearnet has been absorbed into Chiller, but while it was up and running, Fearnet reran REAPER and did a documentary on it. Were you happy with that?

FAZEKAS: One of the best things about that whole thing was, they got us all together, that entire cast, had a reunion and shot it. That was just an amazing experience. It was so great to see them again.

AX: Are you bringing any of that satiric REAPER sensibility into either AGENT CARTER or RESURRECTION?
BUTTERS: I definitely think it’s easier for AGENT CARTER, in the sense of just having the humor and the action and the fun. I think AGENT CARTER is going to be fun.

FAZEKAS: REAPER was kind of absurd and ridiculous in some ways, so it doesn’t totally mesh, but we always try to put humor in everything we do.

AX: How are you balancing your time between AGENT CARTER and RESURRECTION?

BUTTERS: It’s definitely challenging. The fact is that we have incredible staffs on both and incredible partners on both and the creator of RESURRECTION, Aaron Zelman, is on [that series] and we have Chris Dingess and Marcus McFeely, who wrote the [AGENT CARTER] pilot, who are amazing feature writers. On AGENT CARTER, we are lucky to be supported both by ABC and Marvel, and I think our schedule, as much as it’s on top of each other, the fact is, they’re both a limited schedule [Season 2 of RESURRECTION is thirteen episodes, Season 1 of AGENT CARTER is eight].

AX: Hayley Atwell originated the role of Agent Carter in the two CAPTAIN AMERICA movies. Does she have any thoughts that she shared with you about, “Well, I’d really like to keep that aspect,” or, “We did that and I’d to change that aspect”?

FAZEKAS: She is the character. But as of right now, I think first and foremost, it’s about good storytelling, and if we give her great stories to tell, I think she’ll be really happy.

AX: How much are you playing into or steering out of the idea of Carter being a heroic woman in the Forties without having to spend every moment of her life arguing with people so they’ll get out of her way and let her get on with it?

FAZEKAS: I think the challenges that she has in that time period will be very apparent, but I think that it’s sometimes easier to do workarounds than to always confront things head-on. And I think it’ll be a combination. Because at the end of the day, she’s about getting the job done and her personal struggle through that will be the heart of the show.

This interview was conducted at a party thrown by ABC for the Television Critics Association.

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Article: Exclusive Interview with MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER executive producers Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters

 

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