It's Raining Visions on USA's 'Dead Zone'
(Monday, May 31 12:02 AM)
By Kate O'Hare
HOLLYWOOD (Zap2it.com) - - It's raining in Vancouver, Canada, on the set of USA Network's "The Dead Zone," which launches its third season Sunday, June 6. As an Irish-American whose family hailed from the seaside county of Cork (and who lives at the beach in Los Angeles), star Anthony Michael Hall is not dissuaded by the damp.
Hall plays Johnny Smith, a coma victim who awoke -- two seasons ago -- to discover he had been blessed, or cursed, with powerful visions. Over the run of the show, Johnny has learned how to use his visions to try to avert tragedy or solve crimes. He's also haunted by one powerful vision - that politician Greg Stillson (Sean Patrick Flanery) will one day trigger Armageddon.
But right now, Johnny's problems are more immediate. He needs to prevent a tragic shooting at a high school, and he's called on the help of Rebecca Caldwell (Sarah Wynter), a therapist and new friend.
"Johnny's real and tangible in the way he applies himself," co-producer Hall says. "At the same time, he uses his heart and his spirit. The challenge for me is to bring that to life every day.
"Each episode, I dig in, shadow the director, see how they get what they want. I approach every episode like a producer and the star of the show. I take that seriously."
On hand this day is guest star Robert Iler ("The Sopranos"), playing a troubled teen. The episode also features Judge Reinhold as the school principal. These are only two of a list of third-season guest actors that includes Richard Lewis (in an episode directed by Hall) and "Alias" star Greg Grunberg.
"It's a nice trend," Hall says. "It's encouraging that the network is willing to bring actors up from L.A. I'm really excited about these actors, Robert Iler now, Judge Reinhold, Sarah Wynter. It lends more credibility to a show that's pretty dynamic and original."
Along with the high-profile guest stars, producer Robert Petrovicz promises plenty of time will be spent on the regular characters. Aside from Johnny, there's Sarah (Nicole de Boer), his former fiancee; Sheriff Walt Bannerman (Chris Bruno), Sarah's current husband, who is raising Johnny's son (Spencer Achtymichuk) as his own; Johnny's friend and former physical therapist, Bruce Lewis (John L. Adams); and the Rev. Gene Purdy (David Ogden Stiers), Johnny's stepfather and a rich, powerful evangelist.
"The mission statement is the characters," Petrovicz says during a break in filming. "Our desire was to take the relationships of Johnny and Walt and Sarah, Johnny and Purdy, and really develop those and twist them. With Purdy, I've been waiting for that relationship to take a different course. Purdy's going to be exposed. His character is going to take the path that we hoped and plotted when we first put the pilot together."
Also on the docket is more of the Stillson story line. In addition, the show has retained some percentage of the action that was on display in the six adventure-oriented episodes produced for last summer.
"We're going to have character-driven shows," Petrovicz says, "but this year has already had a huge animal show last week with grizzly bears and cougars gone wild and horses trampling up the soccer field. These shows have been epic in proportion."
'Bout time they gave them 22 episodes!USA Foresees Fourth 'Dead Zone' Season
(Thursday, September 09 02:31 PM)
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Given how important "The Dead Zone" was to USA's late summer surge up the cable ratings chart, it didn't take a psychic like Johnny Smith to know that the network would want the show back. On Thursday (Sept. 9), USA announced that "The Dead Zone" will return for a fourth season.
"'The Dead Zone' continues to perform for USA Network, delivering higher ratings with every season. It is consistently one of the top-rated shows on basic cable and we're thrilled to continue to air it on our network," says Jeff Wachtel, USA's executive vice president of series and longform programming.
"The Dead Zone" will go back into production in November on a 22-episode season, bringing the show's total run to 67 episodes. Based on characters created by Stephen King, "The Dead Zone" averaged 3.5 million viewers per week in its third season and joined forces with "The 4400" and "Monk" to push USA to the top of the cable heap for much of the summer. The series showed solid ratings improvement over the previous season.
"'The Dead Zone's' performance this season has been extremely gratifying and we couldn't be happier about getting the greenlight for season four," says Kevin Beggs, president of programming and production, Lions Gate Television.
The show stars the rejuvenated Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Smith, a man gifted and cursed with impressive psychic powers after a near-fatal car accident. USA promises that in the upcoming season, Johnny will embrace a new romance, bond with his young son, face the limitations of his powers and recommit himself to saving the world. After that, one can only guess, he'll finally get around to eating breakfast.