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Interview with Kal Penn of "Superheroes" on
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.
FBC PUBLICITY: SuperHuman
December 18, 2015/10:00 a.m. PST
Nicole Gonzales - Host
Kal Penn - SuperHuman
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Rodney: I know. It was just before everything went crazy in
your life, I bet.
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
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.
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
Kal: Thank you. Thank you very much, and thanks to everyone
for joining the call. I hope you and your readers enjoy the
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
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