'Heroes' boss Tim Kring on series wrap-up and his next project

tim-kringImage Credit: Frank Ockenfels/NBCEW caught up with Heroes creator Tim Kring to talk about his next project — creating interactive content for Nokia that’s meant to inspire social change — and whether fans of his popular NBC series will enjoy some closure after the network opted out of ordering a fifth season of the heavy-serialized drama.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk about your new project, Conspiracy For Good.
Hopefully, we are creating a narrative that will play out across multiple platforms. It’s taking what I learned on Heroes. We told a lot of story online and through mobile, publishing, and merchandising. Everywhere you could connect to an audience with the narrative, we were telling stories. This is taking that same idea and rolling it out, literally, into the streets. The exciting part is that the narrative lives all around you — on your mobile phone, on the internet, and starting on July 17, literally on the streets of London for three weeks. The narrative is a deep mythology with good guys and bad guys, but a little more grounded in the real world in that it doesn’t deal with supernatural or super powers. It’s grounded very much in the real world. It has twists and turns and lead characters and all of that.

Who’s your villain?
Our villain is an evil corporation. They’re involved in many things that we associate with greed and corruption. The conspiracy for good is a global movement around trying to fight this corporate greed and social and environmental injustice. It involves a single storyline that makes its way from Africa to the UK in the next several weeks, and then rolls out onto the streets of London. One character in particular is on a real quest to get justice.

Is the character in law enforcement?
No. It’s an average person.

How do you gain access to the content?
There are many points of entry.  Right now, the main way in is through Conspiracyforgood.com, which is now up and launched. You go to the webpage that features videos and recaps that point you to the activities that are going on and, essentially, how you can get involved. There is other online content that falls into the category of an alternate reality game. Lots of clues and ciphers and hidden codes, codes in songs embedded into music. You’re using the Nokia maps to find things.

Does it have the potential to become a TV show?
It’s not really meant to be a TV project. It’s meant to be an interactive, immersive, pervasive project as opposed to a laid-back experience where you let content wash over you. This is a participation project and I think it’s playing into where audiences are really heading. We have this mobile phone in our hand for four or five hours of the day. When we’re watching TV, we have our laptops open so we can email our friends. In a sense, we are never offline anymore. For someone like me who is a storyteller, it affords tremendous opportunity to tell stories to wherever you are.  That’s what I’m fascinated by and that’s what this project does.

Is TV feeling too old school for you now?
I still have a very active career in the traditional medium of television. I very strongly appreciate what got me to the dance to begin with. I must admit, in the last several years, I’ve seen where the audience is going and how they are consuming content. I’m really beginning to see if you really want to be relevant and really want to reach a mass audience, you have to go where people seem to be going right now.  A show like Heroes was very much at the forefront of the paradigm shift of how people are consuming content. Heroes became the number one downloaded show in the world, even while it was having traditional slipping Nielsen ratings. It certainly was a complicated issue for the network. For me personally, I was intrigued by that, [where] people were consuming content.

Have you given up on TV?
Not at all. TV is still an incredibly exciting medium to work in. What I did learn is that television for me is not enough. Heroes really taught me that much of the excitement of it was creating this three-dimensional platform around a show. It used to be thought of as a one-way street. You push content out into the world and if they liked it, you’d find out two or three months later. Now, the feedback loop is so immediate between you and the audience. You can push out content and an hour later you can have people participating in it or voting on it or doing mashups.

Are you working on anything for TV?
I am currently working on some projects that can be perceived as traditional. I don’t think I can ever approach a project again without thinking about how it could also live on other platforms. To me, it’s become second nature.

Are you going to Comic-Con this summer?
Yes. I may be talking a little bit about this. I’m also talking about a book that I have coming out in the summer. Heroes is something I still want to talk about, too.

Will we see a Heroes movie on NBC next season?
No decision has been made. But the Heroes brand is an extremely broad premise. It was a premise about ordinary people, an undisclosed number of people all over the world, who were waking up to these extraordinary abilities. Any number of stories could happen around that. We never posited a single ending or a single premise.  It wasn’t about getting off of an island or stopping something from happening. We told stories in volumes that had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Those volumes could go on and on and on with many different characters. As a result, that Heroes universe is something that can be tapped into again in many ways. Certainly, a movie is a way to do that and clearly, there is an entire world and a number of platforms that this property could live in. Movies sometimes need a little distance from the television show.

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Comments (56 total) Add your comment
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  • Mathieu

    In the paragraph where Mr Kring says ‘movies sometimes need a little distance from the TV show,’ do you think he’s really saying they won’t be able to get all the original cast back? If that’s the case, don’t bother…

    • barberus

      As long as the REAL Nathan Patrelli is included, i’m in. I agree with many fans of the first season, loved it!… but after that, 50% of the seasons were about questions and mysteries left unanswered or absurd scenarios lacking a conclusion. Another 48% I labelled as “most unlikley method of actually finding a solution to a problem”. It could of been good.

  • bhm1304

    Hey Tim, you tackled the easiest material on the planet to get an audience for, superheroes, and failed miserably in the attempt. Why don’t you just get a job washing dishes somewhere? Leave entertainment to people who actually know how to tell stories and keep an audience satisfied. All we learned from your “Heroes” experience is how much you suck.

    • Kris

      I don’t think you can really say he failed miserably when Heroes was one of the most popular shows on television during Seasons 1 & 2. Some shows don’t have the longevity to go on for seasons but that doesn’t mean you judge them by how they ended. You judge them by how they were at their peak, and Season 1 was pretty damn good.

      • Johnification

        Ever heard the expression “you’re only as good as your last…?” it applies to Kring, too.

        I think this interview finally reveals why Heroes went downhill. Kring got too wrapped up in the cross-medium epicness that he stopped focusing on story and characters. Sorry Tim, I don’t watch “mobisodes” if I don’t like the main show.

      • Strepsi

        Not to mention, going from creating an amazing TV phenomenon to directing interactive content for Nokia may pay the mortgage, but it’s hardly a great career trajectory.

        Even read his last answer — he gets the premise right, that the frisson of HEROES was ordinary people discovering powers… yet after Season 2 we never saw another ordinary person! Heroes went downhill faster than almost any show in memory, how about learning the ‘old school’ medium WELL before branching out?

      • JaySin420

        I totally agree, S1 was fantastic and the show had TONS of fans and then Kring blew it by trying to make it a giant Star Wars type universe way too soon.

        He was too busy working on a spin-off (Heroes:Origins) and the phone/internet stuff while the actual show got worse and worse.

        I just wish someone else could take over Heroes cause the show did have a lot of promise and could have lasted a very long time.

    • jeff

      no don’t tim stay around crossing jordan was great also

    • diego

      I agree!

  • The Jackal

    “We never posited a single ending or a single premise. It wasn’t about getting off of an island or stopping something from happening.”

    This is why the show sucked after the first season and continued to go down hill. I watched all 4 seasons hoping the show would recover, but the problem was the narrative and the shows unwillingness to move on from certain characters. Oh Tim you think the Heroes brand will live on in other mediums, but I think your time has run out. The people who were die hard fans gave your show 3 seasons to prove that the first season wasn’t a fluke and you failed to deliver, move on and let us hang on to season 1 and not regret it.

    • Kylie

      Season 2 was just as good as Season 1. Maybe Season 1 was slightly better but that’s very slightly. The problem with the last two seasons is they had no defined direction. The first two seasons were about the hero’s journey. From the beginning, they set up where the season would end and what the heroes would be trying to stop. Season 3 and 4 didn’t achieve that because they were just a string of stories tht didn’t really connect. That’s why the show went downhill.

      • John

        I’m sorry, but season two with the Wonder Death Twins and the bizarre time travel storyline that lasted three or four episodes too long was not as good as Season 1, nor was it even close.

        Let’s face it, Kring is out of ideas. The way the series ended, with Sylar’s declaration that it was a brave new world, is the best capper we can get for a once great series. If Kring is allowed back at the helm for one more go, he’ll just auger it into the ground that much deeper.

      • Bake

        Season 2 was terrible and got by for me on the goodwill and love generated from Season 1 Season 3 was their chance at redemption and keeping me a fan- it failed miserably

      • Hope

        Maybe season 2 wasn’t AS epic as season 1, but it was much better then the awful season 3 and the even worse season 4. I’ll always remember the second season as the one that I fell in love with Nathan Petrelli I still miss him. :(

    • John

      “I watched all 4 seasons hoping the show would recover, but the problem was the narrative and the shows unwillingness to move on from certain characters.” All 4 seasons? You are a better man or woman than I am Jackal.

      • The Jackal

        a man and thank you, it was very painful at times especially during season 4, I actually developed a rather large brain tumor in the process

  • Entertainment2u-Twitter

    The wrap-up movie is 99.9% dead. Face it… the actors are all now dispersed onto their next projects. So are the writers, producers, etc. It’s over.

  • mark in nyc

    like 99%of people who read this, I assume we all just skipped to the last question?

    • Brian

      Absolutely. I stuck it out, even through the godawful season 3 and the slightly less awful season 4, hoping that Kring and company would find that spark. I was so encouraged when Bryan Fuller came back to write for a bit, but he left again and the show went right back into the crapper. They forgot that it’s gotta be about story and character.

  • redridinghood

    So, somewhere in that long and twisting answer to the last question, is Mr. Kring saying that the possibiities for a movie look dim, so he’s trying to look on the bright side?

  • John

    Kring’s answer about the “Heroes” universe seeming so diverse helps explain why the series failed so utterly. Season One was unpredictable. You felt like anyone could die and probably would. There was the potential for a true rotating cast as new heroes stepped up and old ones retired/died/depowered/whatever. But once it became clear that the regulars weren’t going anywhere, it lost some of that dynamic, unpredictable energy that made Season One so fun.

    • Ceballos

      Not only that, but when people did “die”, there was always time travel or Claire’s blood or triplets (hi, Ali Larter!) or something to bring them back because those old ones had become so popular.

      • Greg

        I hated that Ali Larter died. I really liked her first character(and her family), but I was sick to my stomach when she came back to the show as a different character.

  • Greg

    Heroes would have been awesome if they would have planned it as a story arc, and never tried to make Sylar a good guy. They should have written for 3 seasons. In the end, you just didn’t know where the show was going.

    • Strepsi

      Nor did anyone involved, it was apparent.

    • Ceballos

      “and never tried to make Sylar a good guy.”

      Which time do you mean? Sylar flipped and flopped between being good and bad so much over the course of the show’s last three seasons that I lost track.

      • Greg

        Well in the first season he was pretty much evil. And even in the first part of the second season(maybe all the way trough, I can’t remember for sure).

      • Hope

        Yeah he was actually scary in season 1 then they had to go and make Sylar into a joke.

  • joe

    Kring sounds pathetic. “I’ll work in any medium that will pay me…please.” “Come to my web site so I can sell clicks; PLEASE buy my book; Heroes over? No way, I am going to milk that forever.” He tries to sound all intellectual about new media but then makes it obvious he is dying for a TV contract. Fact is, this guy had millions of viewers in the palm of his hand but he blew it.

  • Larry

    Heroes problem was it never envolved after season one. to add to its problems was all the time travel and alternate futures, pasts etc. It was a writing nightmare

  • Jon

    Has any TV showrunner ever been more hated than Tim Kring? It’s hilarious. If some people had their way, he would be dragged into the street and eviscerated the way Mussolini was. Tim and his writers borrowed the best elements of the first season from elsewhere. When they had to expand on those themes and characters, they failed.

    • TheOdore

      Wasn’t Mussolini and his family stoned to death?

      • TheOdore

        My mistake. He and his mistress were shot. Time for a class action lawsuit against public schools. They’ve done nothing but lie to my my whole life.

    • TE

      “Has any TV showrunner ever been more hated than Tim Kring?” I’d say RTD and Kring are on the same level.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    This series got old and tired quick. Too bad, initially had a good premise.

  • Moe

    I think that this show lost out when the strike happen. Then the show would skip out for some awards show. the the president speeches and other distractions by the time a new episode came on I would lose interest and impatient would set in. I blame NBC get your stuff together!

    • Billy

      Don’t blame NBC for this one. They gave the show every chance in the world. This is one case where it was the writers/showrunners fault and not the network.

  • Goku

    Tim Kring said:

    “Those volumes could go on and on and on with many different characters.”

    Yet season after season the stories revolve around the same group of people who have to save the world. They should have dropped a bunch of the characters from season 1 and created new ones every season. They could have kept Sylar as the villain and it would have worked. But no they have to be lame. Glad its over.

  • JT

    Letting Sylar live killed the show. From the last episode of Season 1 thru the end, it failed to live up to its potential

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