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By Suzanne

Kal Penn

Interview with Kal Penn of "Superheroes" on FOX 12/18/15

I enjoyed this call quite a lot. I love Kal ever since his role on "House" (not even to mention how great he is in the "Harold & Kumar" movies!).  He seems really into this show. I hope it's successful so they can make more.

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: SuperHuman
December 18, 2015/10:00 a.m. PST

SPEAKERS
Nicole Gonzales - Host
Kal Penn - SuperHuman

PRESENTATION

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the FBC Publicity SUPERHUMAN Conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session, and instructions will be given at that time. (Operator instructions.) As a reminder, todayís conference is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Miss Nicole Gonzales. Please go ahead.

Nicole: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining the SUPERHUMAN call. Kal Penn, the host of the special, which premieres on Monday, January 4th, from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Fox, will be taking questions. And we thank you so much for your participation. If youíd like any additional information on the special please feel free to visit www.foxflash.com, which is Fox Publicityís press site.

And we will now send it back over to the operator to start the questions.

Moderator: Of course. (Operator instructions.) And our first question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue from The TV Megasite. Please go ahead.

Suzanne: Hi, Kal. Good morning.

Kal: Good morning. How are you?

Suzanne: Alright. So, youíre hosting the show, did you have anything to do with creating it or anything like that?

Kal: No, I didnít have anything to do with creating it. This was an idea that the folks at some of the, I think it was actually a foreign format, if Iím not mistaken, the folks at Endemol Fox had come over, and we had met a few times about working together, and I loved the concept because Iím a huge fan of shows like Americaís Got Talent, a lot of the positive, uplifting stuff that makes you watch and really root for all of the contestants.

I had also previously hosted and produced a couple of shows for Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel, and those were a little more, I would say, a little more brain-oriented. And I loved those also, but this seemed like a cool combination of both, and so I was excited to talk to them about what it was like and see how it would work for an American format. And we just had a blast working on it.

Suzanne: Great. And so why a special rather than a series?

Kal: I think that the idea is that if this is something that people enjoy that thereís talk about hopefully turning it into a series, which I think would be a lot of fun. I had a great time working on it and was really amazed at the brain skills of all the people involved. So I think, if Iím not mistaken, and Nicole, tell me if Iím wrong, but I think the idea was to do a two-hour special and if it did well talk about turning it into something a little more long term.

Suzanne: Great. Well, thanks a lot. I look forward to seeing it.

Kal: Yes, thank you. Hope you like it.

Moderator: And we do have a question from the line of Sandra Perez with Hidden Remote. Please go ahead.

Sandra: Hi, Kal.

Kal: Hi, Sandra. How are you?

Sandra: Good. How are you?

Kal: Good. Thank you.

Sandra: My question is, what was the audition process like? Will we see any of that in the special?

Kal: I think youíll see a little bit of the preparation. I donít know how much of the auditioning per se comes into it. I joined a little bit after they had chosen all of the contestants, and I think it was a pretty wide net that they cast, for better or worse, I think for better. A lot of folks with these kinds of superhuman skills already have things up on YouTube that showcase their talents, so I think it was a combination of traditional casting mechanisms, as well as looking through online and social media stuff to find these folks.

What was really interesting for me, since I joined after they had already been chosen, was to get to know them as they were practicing. And itís interesting to see people compete in a format where their individual skills are different. So, for example, a lot of other shows, if itís a dance competition or a singing competition you know that everyoneís a singer or everyoneís a dancer, and so itís probably a little more consistent in terms of how to work with them, or rank them, or what criteria the judges use to compare and contrast them.

And in this case since everybody has such different skills it was really fascinating just to watch them prepare. Some of them use their bodies and muscle memory, some of them use a trick with their brains, or a talent that they have for adding up numbers quickly, and some of them are more visual than others. And I think because of that, Iíve never worked on a show that focuses on one art form versus a bunch of different ones, but they seem to all be rooting for each other, which was also a lot of fun through the process to see.

Sandra: Cool. And weíre seeing this in a two hour special, but how long did it take to film, would you say?

Kal: It actually took, let me see if Iím getting this right, it took three days. Actually, I think it was two production days and two down days for them to rehearse. So, what youíre seeing is pretty much in, generally speaking, in real time. And also when I say two days to film, it wasnít like we started in the morning and then shot until late at night. We rehearsed a little bit with the contestants and the cameras, but what youíre seeing as a live show was shot in real time, so youíre seeing it pretty much the way that it was shot.

Sandra: Okay. Well, thank you so much.

Kal: Thank you.

Moderator: And we do have a question from the line of David Martindale with Fort Worth, I believe itís Startlegram. Please go ahead.

David: Startlegram, thatís a nickname for it. The Star Telegram, thank you. Yes, we call it the Startlegram. Hi, Kal. Youíre perfect for this. I love The Big Picture. I am glad Iím not germophobic or I wouldnít have loved The Big Picture.

Kal: Thank you.

David: Yes. I think itís refreshing to have a competition show that isnít a stinging talent show, where people are stabbing each other in the back. Donít you think?

Kal: Well, itís funny because when I compare it to certain shows I think itís similar in some ways to Americaís Got Talent, or even some of the dance shows, because of that camaraderie. I think there are shows out there that are arts-related, or that are about singing, where the model of the show is a little more jabby. But there are also shows out there that are less jabby. I think, Nick Cannon, for example, does a great job at bringing the audience into rooting for the different contestants on his show. And I think we were going for something a little more similar to that in tone.

But youíre right, itís a celebration of peopleís skills as opposed to somebody beating somebody else down for it. And thereís a certain joy to it, we had a live audience for the shoot and it seemed like that was something that they really enjoyed. They were the ones who voted on how the contestants ranked, and so it was definitely uplifting and I think it was, more than anything, probably a celebration of these insane, amazing skills that people have.

David: Yes. Are any of these superhuman abilities something that you would like to have, or would find useful? Iím looking at this and thinking super memory would come in handy for an actor, although you probably have a super memory for lines and things already.

Kal: No. But youíre right, you always want more of a memory as an actor, especially if youíve got a shorter amount of time to prep. So, yes, I think some of the folks who had memory skills were probably what I would pick if I had to pick one of them for myself.

David: Okay. Thank you so much.

Kal: Thank you.

David: Yes.

Moderator: And we do have a question from the line of Stephanie Piche from Mingle Media TV. Please go ahead.

Stephanie: Hi, Kal. Thanks so much for taking our questions.

Kal: Hi. How are you?

Stephanie: Good, thanks. Youíve been around the globe, and Iím sure youíve met extraordinary people. But out of these 12 contestants, how many really blew your mind?

Kal: I would say all of them. And Iím not just saying that because Iím the host of the show. I donít know if theyíve shown you guys a clip, but one of the things I loved was when youíre hosting a show a lot of the stuff, the introductions of the different contestants, youíre reading off of a teleprompter, but thereís some stuff that you just canít put in a teleprompter. And I posted a couple other things before, but this is the first time I think weíve really gone off the teleprompter because I was so amazed at some of the things these people were doing. And when we would cut to commercial I would run up to the producer and say, ďIs that okay? Is it alright that I did that? I know thatís not in the script.Ē And they were like, ďNo, thatís great because the fact that youíre actually that impressed by some of these people was awesome.Ē

The other thing I would say is youíll see in the series everybody has such unique personalities, and that is I think very organically cultivated by just the nature of what they do. Weíve got somebody who is an incredible chef, somebody else who is really good with numbers. Thereís a woman whoís a dancer, and the muscle memory that she uses with her body even when sheís blindfolded walking through a maze, thereís that kind of stuff where in order to get to the place they were at and to realize that theyíve got this talent when they were young and then hone it in, there are a lot of quirks that they have that they shared with us too.

So, I think when I say all of them in response to your question Iím not trying to just say it because I feel like itís the right thing to say. It genuinely was a really cool opportunity to hang out with these amazing people for a week almost.

Stephanie: Right. And so you mentioned the other two shows that you hosted before that were more cerebral, which is interesting compared to some of your acting projects.

Kal: Sure.

Stephanie: So, my question to you is, do your fans from Harold & Kumar also follow you to your other projects to see what youíre doing? Do you interact with them? Do you know if itís a part of whoís watching you?

Kal: Yes, itís definitely a part of whoís watching. Iím always curious to see to what extent. And itís kind of interesting, sometimes Iíll get a tweet from people who say things like, ďI love your Discovery Channel show. Itís actually something that I can watch with my mom when I go home from college.Ē Like I canít watch your movies with her, but I can watch this Discovery Channel show.

And then other times when Iíve actually had a chance to talk to some of the audience folks in a little more detail, they say things like, ďYour movie is perfect for a Friday night, but on Sunday afternoon I love that my fraternity brothers and I can watch your National Geographic thing.Ē

Stephanie: Sure.

Kal: So, it seems like, just like everybody, sometimes you want to watch a dumb comedy, sometimes you want to watch something that makes you think, or cry, or laugh, or whatever, and so itís been really fun to see audiences react to different things.

Stephanie: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Kal: Yes, thank you.

Stephanie: Iím looking forward to it.

Kal: Thank you very much.

Moderator: And we do have a question from the line of Phyllis Thomas with The Examiner. Please go ahead.

Phyllis: Good morning, Kal.

Kal: Good morning. How are you?

Phyllis: Iím fine, thanks. How about yourself?

Kal: Great. Thank you.

Phyllis: Great. I was actually wondering about the show, will we see anything about the contestantsí back story, or any confessionals? Did you have a chance to interview them personally at all?

Kal: Yes to all of the above, so youíll see quite a bit about their back stories, sometimes their family history, where they grew up, how they discovered they had these unique talents. And part of that for me was both as an actor I always find that stuff fascinating because itís part of crafting the narrative of who they are and how the audience maybe identifies with them. But it was also just really cool because they come from completely different walks of life, and thereís a pretty big age spread among them also. I believe the youngest is, I want to say 17 maybe, and the oldest is probably in his 50s or 60s. And so all of that kind of, yes, thereís appeal for everybody, but itís also really fun to get to know them outside of their skill.

Phyllis: Then, thereís a wide variety of guest panelists. Can you provide any insight as to what we might expect from the three of them?

Kal: Yes. Itís a great combination, right? Youíll see when Mike Tyson is sitting there watching some of these folks heíll sometimes be completely quiet because heís amazed. And then you ask him, ďMike, what did you think of that?Ē And heíll just say, ďThat was insane.Ē And the way that he, just the inflection with which he says that will tell you everything you need to know about whatís going on in Mike Tysonís brain when heís watching this stuff.

And then having a doctor, an actor, and a boxer on at the same time means that everybodyís looking for something completely different and sometimes Dr. Rahul Jandial will offer the scientific explanation of whatís going on in the brain. But at other times heíll sit there and say, ďI actually donít know how thatís being done.Ē This might be one of the areas of the brain that hasnít really been studied as well. And so itís a little bit of everything from each of the three of them.

Phyllis: It sounds great. Thank you.

Kal: Thank you.

Moderator: And our last question of the day comes from the line of Rodney Ho with The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Please go ahead.

Rodney: Hi, Kal.

Kal: Hi, Rodney. How are you?

Rodney: Okay. I met you many years ago at the very first Harold & Kumar. You came to Atlanta to promote the movie.

Kal: I remember that trip. That was actually my first time in Atlanta.

Rodney: I know. It was just before everything went crazy in your life, I bet.

Kal: Yes.

Rodney: Well, was it fun to see Mary Lynn-Rajskub again? Was it sort of a 24 reunion for you?

Kal: A little bit, yes, and that was a lot of fun. I had never met Mike or the doctor, but knew of them, so not just a reunion but also kind of a cool thing to dive into.

Rodney: Yes, thatís definitely people youíll never see in the same room together otherwise, right?

Kal: Exactly. Thatís how I describe it to a lot of my friends [indiscernible].

Rodney: Well, this is a very parochial question, but, Will, the chef thatís from Atlanta, I talked to him. What was your impression of his skills?

Kal: He was awesome. The tough part about doing a show with food is that you always want to eat when itís done.

Rodney: Yes.

Kal: And he, I donít know if youíve had a chance to meet him, but has such an incredible outgoing personality that you donít just want to eat, you want to sit down with him and ask him a million questions about his life and then eat his food. So, when you work in TV you donít have the luxury of doing that, but my next trip to Atlanta I want to go to one of his restaurants and take him up on that, because he was a really great guy with I think a really fun story, and heís just great on camera.

Rodney: Well, thank you so much, Kal. Good luck in your next venture, if itís this or something else. Iím sure it will be interesting.

Kal: Thank you. Thank you very much, and thanks to everyone for joining the call. I hope you and your readers enjoy the show.

Moderator: And for closing remarks Iíll turn it back over to Miss Gonzales. Please go ahead.

Nicole: Thank you, everyone. That completes our call with Kal Penn, host of SuperHuman, premiering on Fox, Monday, January 4th at 8 pm ET/PT. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me directly. My contact information is on the confirmation. And again you can access information on this special on www.foxflash.com. Thank you so much. That concludes our call.

Kal: Thank you.

Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude your conference for today. Thank you for your participation and for using the AT&T Executive TeleConference Service. You may now disconnect.

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