A new hero will be rise on Thursday. ABC's "The Quest" will premiere on July 31 and introduce a whole new kind of "reality" TV-show.
The fantasy-reality show, from an executive producer of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the producers of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and the producers of "The Amazing Race," follows 12 contestants, or "Paladins," as they train and compete to be the hero to save the magical world of "Everealm."
We caught up with "The Quest" executive producers Rob Eric ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") and Jane Fleming ("Lovely Molly") to go behind the scenes before the big premiere.
“The seed of the idea came from watching the actors go through training for 'The Lord of the Rings,'" Fleming explained. "And we were watching it and wondering, ‘why do the actors get to have all the fun? Why can’t real people have that same kind of experience?'”
Fleming went on to dish what went into to creating the fictional world of Everealm, from bringing in special effects giant Spectral Motion ("Pacific Rim," "X-Men First Class") to hand picking the costumes.
"We worked with Profile Television (The Amazing Race) to create awesome challenges, we hired actors out of Austria and Germany, and we got the best costume designers and production designers we could think of to pull together this world that we had dreamt of years prior," Fleming continued.
Meanwhile, Eric added how the attention to detail was necessary to absorb the contestants into the experience.
“The best way to have them react in a real time moment is to create an extremely textured world," Eric said of this new "reality" series. "You can’t have a green screen behind them, put them on a horse and say pretend you’re in a field. We have to put them in a field. We have to put them on a mountain. We have to put them into a castle!”
There might be castles, mountains, fields and more ... but just how "real" is the world?
“We were freaking out," said Eric, "We were sitting there doing test runs of stuff and losing our minds, going ‘Oh my God, it looks amazing!’”
The 12 contestants on the other hand had no idea what they were getting into, as Fleming and Eric said, their goal was to surprise them as much as possible.
“They only knew two things," said Fleming. "They knew the Executive Producer of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the Producers of 'The Amazing Race' were making a show. That’s it. They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t know what we were going to be doing to them. They had no idea the scale of what we had planned. I’ve started saying this is the most elaborate surprise party ever.”
While the world and challenges the contestants face will be fantastical, the strength of the show, they say, is the genuiune personalities the contestants themselves bring to the experience.
“We never asked them to be anything, but themselves," said Fleming, "They can still be Lena from New Jersey or Shondo from Houston. When they’re competing they’re bringing their foibles from the real world into Everealm and need to overcome them to succeed.”
Eric hopes the show will be a vicarious experience for the audience who, up until this point, could only have dreamed of being part of such an adventure.
“For years we’ve all sat back in movie theaters and fairy tales and said, ‘God, I wish I could be whisked away into an adventure,’" Eric added. "Well, we just took 12 real people and did that.”
Their advice for fans when "The Quest" premieres? “Open up your imagination and just have a blast!”
Are you excited for "The Quest?" Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.