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By Suzanne

Martin Gero

Interview with Martin Gero of "Blindspot" on NBC 9/25/15

NBC UNIVERSAL
Moderator: Matthew Mitchell
September 25, 2015 12:00 pm CT

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to The Blindspotís Martin Gero Press and Media Conference Call. During the presentation, all participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards, we will conduct a question and answer session.

At that time if you have a question, please press the 1 followed by the 4 on your telephone. If at any time during the conference you need to reach an operator, please press star 0.

As a reminder, this conference is being recorded Friday, September 25, 2015. Iíd now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Matthew Mitchell. Please go ahead, sir.

Matthew Mitchell: Thank you for joining todayís call. Weíre really thrilled to have Martin Gero, the creator, executive producer, and show-runner for Blindspot on the phone with us today.

On Monday, September 28, we will air our second episode entitled ďA Stray Howl.Ē To start off, weíll allow each of you the chance to ask a question, and should you wish to follow up I just ask that you please reenter the queue.

Just a reminder that the call is being recorded. Please welcome Martin and now weíre ready to open it up for questions. Thanks so much everybody.

Operator: Thank you, sir. As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, please press the 1 followed by the 4 to register for a question. Our first question comes from the line of Brittany Frederick from the Examiner. Please go ahead.

Brittany Frederick: Hey Martin. Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out with us today.

Martin Gero: Oh, my God. Itís my pleasure. Thank you guys.

Blindspot

Brittany Frederick: I kind of really enjoyed Rob Brownís character, Agent Reade, who stole the show at points there in the pilot with some of those one-liners. Can you talk about that character? And are we going to see more of him as the season goes on?

Martin Gero: Absolutely. I think itís really important on a show like this to find humor where you can so it doesnít become all gloom and doom and dour. And itís something we do more and more every episode because our cast is really funny, Rob Brown especially. Certainly Ashley Johnson is going to carry a lot of that weight as well.

And no, itsí one of those things when we started testing the show, I was so pleased to find out that people just really connected to Robís character and the fact that there was a little bit of humor in the show. So it really allowed us to run with that as the episodes come up.

Brittany Frederick: Awesome. Well, thank you so much and good luck with the rest of the season.

Martin Gero: Thanks so much.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Stephanie Bichet from Minglemediatv.com. Please go ahead.

Stephanie Bichet: Thank you. Hi Martin.

Martin Gero: Hi.

Stephanie Bichet: Enjoyed the pilot and looking forward to the rest of the season. Can you tell me did you create as a limited series because thereís only so many tattoos on Jane Doeís body? Or will you...

Martin Gero: No.

Stephanie Bichet: ...have something else? Okay, good. Thatís...

Martin Gero: No, thereís a real concrete plan for the first three seasons, and then I have an idea on how to take it past there if we get there. So the crazy thing about pitching these shows nowadays is people have been so burned by an idea that can last ten episodes. So you really have to -- even in the origination of the pitch -- come up with an enormous amount of backstory, which at the time feels like an enormous waste of time because youíre like, no oneís even bought this show. What am I doing?

But the second it gets picked up itís like, Iím so thankful that I put in the groundwork when it was a little crazy. So no, we have all of the ten full episodes for the first season mapped out and we know what the second season is and how to get into the third season. And then hopefully weíll see.

Stephanie Bichet: Okay, super. Thank you.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, please press the 1 followed by the 4 to register a question. Our next question comes from the line of Joshua Maloney from Niagara Frontier Publications. Please go ahead.

Joshua Maloney: Hi Martin. Thanks for your time today.

Martin Gero: Absolutely.

Joshua Maloney: Congratulations on being number one on Monday.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Joshua Maloney: So you mentioned that thereís a rich amount of backstory, and obviously the people on this call an appreciate that. But you know thereís some risk associated with that in todayís TV culture. So Iím wondering how you appeal to the fans that want that rich mystery with those who maybe just are going to be casual viewers and just want to see Jane punch someone or fight someone?

Martin Gero: Well, I think Iíve said from the beginning this is a procedural for people that donít like procedurals and a character drama for people that donít like character drama. I think we can find a way to do both really well.

Our story of the week, so to speak, comes from one of Janeís tattoos and is closed-ended and like a little action movie in and of itself. But then whatís great about the show is that weíre able to do a layered character drama on top of that. And I think with previously-ons and people finding out information within the show, itís the type of thing that will reward the loyal viewer but wonít alienate the casual viewer, which I think is so important on shows like these.

Certainly, for me, especially when youíre doing twenty-two a year, sometimes you find out about something and youíre like, oh man, I donít have twenty-two hours to catch up on the first season. And so for us itís very important that the show has an entry point for anybody at any time.

Joshua Maloney: Alright. Thank you. Looking forward to more of them.

Martin Gero: Okay, thanks.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Jason Wisner from Tvovermind.com. Please go ahead.

Jason Wisner: Hey Martin. Thanks so much for taking the time with us and congratulations on a great first episode so far.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Jason Wisner: I wanted to ask - I know that we had seen a really strong connection already with just one episode between Jane and Agent Weller, but can you talk a little bit about what the relationship between Jane and the other members of the cast is going to be like moving forward?

Martin Gero: Oh, absolutely. Itís - she slowly becomes very close with all of them. Itís a - thereís a line in episode three where theyíre struggling to find what Janeís role is, how to work it week to week or day to day. And Patterson says itís kind of like a tangram, which is like these Japanese shape puzzles. And sheís like, you know, this team has been in one piece for so long. And weíre just trying to figure out how to incorporate this new piece, what shape that team is going to be.

So she really has an impact on all of their lives and the great thing about doing a show like this is week to week you get to deepen al of the characters, not just Weller and Jane. And so you start to have - Pattersonís going to have her own stories and - sorry. Iím thinking of them just as their actor names. And then Zapata and Reade will start to have their own stories.

But itís all directly tied to how Jane is impacting all their lives. So itís a fun line to trace as who welcomes her with open arms, whoís suspicious of her, whoís worried about her. It runs the gamut and all of their lives are changed for good and for bad by knowing Jane.

Jason Wisner: Okay, fantastic. Iím looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Martin Gero: Thanks. I hope you like episode two.

Operator: Thank you. As another reminder, please press the one followed by the four to register for a question. Our next question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue from TV Megasite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne Lanoue: Good morning.

Martin Gero: Good morning.

Suzanne Lanoue: How did you come up with such an interesting idea for the show?

Martin Gero: I wish I had a better answer for this, but Iíve always loved puzzles. Iíve always - this kind of show is a show I would watch. And I just looked around and felt like thereís not a lot of these puzzle shows and itís because theyíre really hard to do, certainly. But - and so I really thought about it just in the back of my head for years about how to do a show with a treasure map in it somehow.

And then I was - I lived in Times Square -- which is a long story -- during the Viacom bomb threat where they emptied it out, and that image has just stayed with me. Itís, like, so freaky because Times Square is like one of the worldís most famous busy places. And to see it totally empty was kind of an amazing thing.

So one morning I was just thinking about - wow, I wonder what they would do if they went and dismantled a bomb and there was a person inside that bag instead of a bomb? And then I thought how could I connect that to a specific person? You could tattoo Kurt Wellerís name on her back.

And then I was like, well, what if she was covered in tattoos? What if it was a whole treasure map? And I had never seen that before. Iíd never seen a person as a treasure map.

So I just got really excited about it and was like letís figure this out and see where this goes.

Suzanne Lanoue: Alright. Well, thanks a lot. I like the show.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is a follow-up question from the line of (Brittany Frederick) from the Examiner. Please go ahead.

Brittany Frederick: Martin, Iím just curious what this journey has been like for you. Now that the show is finally out there, this thing that you admittedly spent so long working on - what have the last couple of days of days been like for you?

Martin Gero: Itís been extraordinarily overwhelming for me and the entire cast and crew. We were really excited about the show and to see that it has connected with so many people is just really exciting. And you never know in this business. Iíve been on shows that I thought were pretty good and no one watched. The last show that I created was the lowest premiere in the history of television.

So this is a marked difference, certainly, than that experience. And itís been really wonderful. And I think for us, too, itís exciting because weíre really proud of the pilot, obviously, but weíre even prouder of the series that weíve made. A lot of people are like, sure, but how do you do this week to week?

And I really think weíve cracked it and found that balance between a great, thrilling action hour and then emotional character drama. And I just canít wait. We canít - weíre just like - people have told me I canít wait to see it, but weíre just so anxious to get it out there and have people watch it and go on this ride with us.

Brittany Frederick: Yes. I think when I was reviewing the pilot I was up until about four AM still writing stuff down. You guys have really - thanks for ruining my life. No, Iím kidding.

Martin Gero: Youíre very welcome for ruining your life. The fun thing, too, is itís like - who doesnít love a puzzle? Who doesnít love a mystery? And this one is wrapped in a lot of funs tuff.

And so the drama - the mystery of who she is and why someone did this to her - we feel like we have a good answer for that. And so - and weíre able to - I think itís really dangerous for shows like this to feel like all middle from this point on. So weíre really going to churn through some pretty amazing story real quick. Even by the end of the first active, episode two, thereís a pretty major reveal in there that really shapes the entire show. So weíre just excited for people to see it.

Brittany Frederick: Awesome. Well, thanks so much again.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Another reminder -- please press the 1 followed by the 4 to register for a question. Our next question comes from the lien of (Stephanie Bichet) from Minglemediatv.com. Please go ahead.

Stephanie Bichet: Me again. So Martin, youíve created a lot of different projects in different genres. Is there a checklist of story elements that you like to include now that youíve broken the mold and started blending procedural and character drama into a puzzle for us? Is there anything else that you always go to?

Martin Gero: For me itís all about the characters. If youíre not interested week to week in what the characters are doing, itís really hard for the show to work. The pilot you really have to have these amazing set pieces to really draw people in. but even our opening, which is so enormous in Times Square, I think what works about it is youíre genuinely concerned for this woman. Itís a hook into the show visually but itís also like oh, my God, whatís happening to her?

And so for us the type of action we do on the show is very character-centric. Itís not just massive explosions and car chases. Itís about this woman and this man trying to figure out what the hell is going on with them.

And so for me, Iím just really excited -- A -- to have a canvas thatís this big that you can do some really amazing stuff on, but at the end of the day itís like the story that weíre telling about these, I think, rather unique characters and the drama that theyíre involved together is what really gets us excited. I think thatís the one.

I know Iíve worked through a lot of genres, but at the end of the day itís the characters that - the television shows I like -- and Iím obsessed with television. When they come back on itís like, oh, my friends are back, which is sad and lonely.

But thatís kind of how - thatís how you know itís a good TV show when they transcend that - the show and you just think about them when theyíre not on TV, if that makes any sense.

Stephanie Bichet: It does. I live here in LA and a lot of times Iíll see some of my favorite TV characters at a restaurant or whatever. And I wave at them and they look at me like, hello?

Martin Gero: I know, right?

Stephanie Bichet: So I know how you feel.

Martin Gero: Yes, absolutely.

Stephanie Bichet: Okay, thanks.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question is once again a follow-up question from (Jason Wisner) from Tvovermind.com. Please go ahead.

Jason Wisner: Alright. I really liked in the first episode the way that the procedural elements were blended in with that character drama like you were mentioning, but I was wondering - do you anticipate, for lack of a better phrase, the case of the week elements - do you anticipate ever having one of those like the one in the pilot? And then coming back to it later on in the season or in the series and revealing some more information or in some way having that case have a much bigger part later on than viewers really thought at the beginning.

Martin Gero: Yes. I donít want to say much more because that bleeds into spoiler area, but I will say all of the cases are interconnected. Thereís nothing random about any of the cases they investigate. I can think of one that seems semi-random, but the rest of them are - the cases that come from her body are there with a specific purpose in mind.

And part of the puzzle is trying to figure out whoís doing this and why. And the really clearest information you have about that is the cases start to develop -- at least outwardly -- a theme. And that theme is very telling, and itís something that our characters are struggling with.

So yes, itís every - they seem disconnected, but as presented - like if you put them all up on a board, they start to - their similarities start to tell a story, if that makes any sense, which makes it very hard to come up with cases because they all have to fit a very - we have a very specific plan that these bad guys are doing.

And so you canít just come in and be like, hey, I have a great case idea. And youíre like, well, no. that doesnít fit with our villainís overarching goal. So itís occasionally frustrating in the writerís room, but I think it gives it a homogeny that is really interesting.

Jason Wisner: Okay, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question, once again, is a follow-up from the line of (Joshua Maloney) from Niagara Frontier Publications. Please go ahead.

Joshua Maloney: Thank you. Martin, obviously a lot of people know Jaimie form her action roles. They may have been surprised to see how well she did with some of the more heartfelt tender moments on Monday. I know I was impressed. Can you tell us a little bit about what she brings to the table and about her acting ability?

Martin Gero: Well, I think whatís really amazing about both of our leads is - and by the way, youíd be lucky to have just Jaimie Alexander in the show. Youíd be lucky to have just Sullivan Stapleton in a show. But I have both of them - really puts us over the top in a way that I think canít be discounted.

And I think what connected me to both of them is Jaimie is an internationally known hard-ass. But she has this incredible vulnerability inside of her that is so important for this character to feel balanced because what sheís going through is totally traumatic. And so yes, it was - when we met with her initially, just even her talking about the character there was this emotion that I had seen under the surface of a lot her performances. I had been a fan of hers and then before we offered it to her, I just watched everything sheíd ever been in. And I just thought - I was like, sheís a really great actress on top of the fact of being very physically capable.

And it was - so that was - and it was - itís exciting when you see somebody whoís really great and hasnít shown all of it yet to the world. And so that was really exciting for us and I think itís really exciting for her.

And then for Sullivan itís kind of the same thing. I mean, I became aware of Sullivan through Animal Kingdom, which was this insanely human, beautiful, tragic performance that he gave. And then he went on to become a massive action star.

So knowing that he could - heís one of the manliest men Iíve ever met in my life, but also is like - has got such a beautiful soul and can play this tragedy and this hurt that this character clearly has. And I think itíll be explored a lot. I can - after the second episode youíll see what Iím talking about. But they both have both of those - the strength and the vulnerability in them, which makes them human and insanely watchable.

Joshua Maloney: Right. Alright, thanks again.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. As a final reminder, please press the 1 followed by the 4 to register for an audio question. The next question, once again, is a follow-up from (Stephanie Bichet) from Minglemediatv.com. Please go ahead.

Stephanie Bichet: Hi. I have like twenty-five questions, but these are just two quick ones. What went into the creation of each of the tattoos?

Martin Gero: We - yes. I mean, they vary. Theyíre - we - I - when I started developing the show, I made a book of like a hundred tattoos that I really liked. And then we hired a graphic designer eventually to layer them on her body in a rough placement. Then we hired Tinsley Transfer, which specializes in cinematic tattoos. And this guy Christian Tinsley and his team really took the design to a whole other level, brought an amazing amount of detail and brought an amazing amount of stuff with it.

But for us thereís a lot of story on her body that needed to be incorporated. So yes, itís really a team effort between the writers and Tinsley Transfers, and weíve brought in this guy (David Quong), whoís a magician and puzzle-maker for the New York Times. Heís amazing. And so heís one of our chief puzzle consultants and makes sure that these things make sense and they work, which is super important to me.

The second tattoo for the second episode - we put it out for Entertainment Weekly because you could solve it yourself after having seen the pilot. No one has yet. I was like - itís some sort of prize for the person that can figure it out. Iíd be so impressed. But you can piece these together yourself, and so itís really important for us as a collaboration between the writers, Tinsley, and (David Quong) that this all makes sense and it all has a flow to it.

So yes, outside of that itís hard to get into how we made each tattoo because theyíre so based in story that hasnít come up yet. But is that an okay answer?

Stephanie Bichet: Oh yes. No, thatís awesome. And also you said you watched everything Jaimie has done in the past. Did you know that she - from what sheís done, she lost her memory in three other projects?

Martin Gero: I did know that. It was real crazy. I was like this is old hat for her. She can do this. No problem.

Stephanie Bichet: That was her audition, right?

Martin Gero: Yes, exactly. Sheís like, this is what I do. Iím the no memory girl.

Stephanie Bichet: Perfect. Okay, thanks.

Martin Gero: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question - once again, a follow-up from the line of (Brittany Frederick) from the Examiner. Please go ahead.

Brittany Frederick: Martin, I want to ask you about the week-to-week writing process. How does it change for you guys when youíre writing episodes right now - like the beginning of season one and you know - okay, we have things planned out for the end of season one and end of season two like you were saying. How - when itsí plotted like that for certain beats, how does it change you as far as approaching how to write every individual episode getting to those points?

Martin Gero: Well, I think itís all about servicing those. Itís not just the end. I know we - when we started, I knew what I wanted episode five and six to be, and I knew what episode seven was. And then I definitely knew what episode ten was. Thatís our midseason finale - what eleven was. And then you have some midway points where itís like, okay, well, fifteen and sixteen have to be this. Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two -- if weíre so lucky -- have to be those.

So - and then itís about - itís kind of like an animation in-betweening. You do the big moves and then youíre like, okay, well how do we get there in an organic way? We know where we have to land with these characters in ten, so how do we get everyone there in a way that feels like we - it happens naturally and organically?

And thatís really fun to know - to know where youíre going makes this job way easier because youíre not just like, well, what do we do this week? You have a plan of where you have to get to and so both for the characters and for the mystery. So itís been really fun to work with these amazing writers and craft these episodes week to week, building on, ideally, what weíve done last week.

Brittany Frederick: Awesome. Well, thanks so much again.

Martin Gero: Absolutely.

Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of (Ann Easton) from the New York Observer. Please go ahead.

Ann Easton: Hey, thanks for taking the call today. Really appreciate it.

Martin Gero: Absolutely.

Ann Easton: My question is about social media. How do you think it helps the show? And conversely, do you think it hurts it a little bit, especially since things might get spoiled for West Coast viewers? I just wondered if you could talk about that a little bit.

Martin Gero: Well, I think the fun of this show - we live tweet both the East Coast and West Coast feeds. And itís really fun to engage the audience in a real-time way and see whatís working and whatís not working, and what they get excited about.

And it creates a buzz. We trended on Twitter worldwide for I think four or five hours Monday night, which is extraordinary. And it drives - I think it drives interest in a show like this because if youíre just somebody thatís not into the show and all of a sudden your Twitter feed blows up with all things Blindspot, I think it drives you to the program.

And then as far as the East Coast - West Coast thing, certainly there are shows that I just as a fan have participated in live Tweet-wise. And I just think theyíre savvy enough to just be like, well, Iím going to stay off Twitter for two or three hours. And then Iíll - and then we do it all again. So itís not like theyíre missing anything.

And just being able to - whatís really interesting is the - how it stays hot well after the show. Because what a lot of people do is they watch the show and then they just enter hashtag Blindspot into their search and then just scroll back over the next hour. And itsí kind of like a directorís commentary or something like that with hundreds of thousands of participants.

And so yes. Itís - I think itís something we take really seriously and I think it helps more than it hurts.

Ann Easton: Great. Thanks so much.

Martin Gero: Absolutely.

Operator: Thank you. One final reminder, ladies and gentlemen -- please press the one followed by the four to register for a question.

It appears we have no further questions at this time. Mr. Mitchell, Iíll turn the call back over to you, sir.

Matthew Mitchell: Thank you very much. Thanks everyone for taking the time to participate today. Should anyone have follow-up questions or need additional information, please feel free to reach out to me and Iíll do my best to get you whatever you need. If youíd like a transcript, please reach out to myself or (Marcia Ricket). Weíll send that out within the next forty-eight hours.

Again, thanks so much for joining todayís call and everybody have a great weekend. Thanks so much.

Martin Gero: Thank you, guys.

Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the conference call for today. We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect your lines.

END

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