FOX will premiere its new drama, Lone Star, tonight at 9pm. It is a show created by Kyle Killen, who says he pitched it as “Dallas but without the cheese.” The show centers on a young con man named Robert “Bob” Allen (James Wolk) who is juggling two lives, two jobs, and two lady loves while working a long con with his dad (David Keith). Very quickly in the season premiere, though, he learns he wants to attempt a normal life and takes a job with Jon Voight to attempt to “go straight” and become the man that would actually be worthy of the love of Adrianne Palicki and Eloise Mumford.
Read LA TV Insider Examiner’s review of the Lone Star pilot here.
Read LA TV Insider Examiner’s spotlight on James Wolk here.
Series producer Amy Lippman weighs in on what we can expect from show star Wolk, the Texas setting, and the challenges of the series in general:
Lippman says that the true beauty, but also the true challenge, to Lone Star lies on the shoulders of its leading man:
Amy Lippman: “It’s an interesting struggle that all of us have in sort of conceiving of the show is what is that balance: what is that balance between him truly being a sympathetic character and wanting the best for the people around him and at the same time having, really being responsible for putting himself in a position where everyone could potentially lose?”
Lonestar will focus on individual stories that can get wrapped up in an episode or two, as well as overarching themes that can go on for the duration of the season:
A.L.: “I think what you will find is that there’s lots of intrigue in the show. There are sort of overarching cons that may last the season. There are smaller cons that he is forced to participate in to keep his two lives going and separate. And we are trying to balance that with a realism, and even though he has two of them, each marriage needs to have issues that don’t necessarily relate to the deception that I think we will be successful if we can interest an audience in what goes on in each of those marriages.”
In addition to two great loves, Robert/Bob also has two strong influences in his life in his own father (Keith), and his surrogate father figure (Voight). That will come into play all season long and tug at his loyalties:
A.L.: “What goes on between those two father figures that isn’t always related to a secret or lie or a con that’s being told. And it’s very intriguing. It’s a very complicated premise, and [Robert is] certainly the most complicated character we’ve ever written because he’s got a lot of demons. He comes from a very dysfunctional past. He’s striving for a really honest, functional future and, in the present, extricating himself from one world to be free to go into the other is very, very– it’s difficult.”
The idea for the series started with a character and a setting and the themes evolved over time:
A.L.: “Speaking for [Kyle], I would say that the idea evolved over time. I think there were various versions of it where Bob wasn’t a con man, and then he immersed himself in some Texas history and looked at these oilmen who were profiled in books like “The Big Rich,” which is a really interesting book– you look at a character like H.L. Hunt, whose success gave him a kind of confidence to lead double lives. He had three families. I think two of them knew about each other, but he was just a very bold about it. It gave him a kind of carte blanche, the success he had, to just take what he wanted. I think Kyle started with that and then kind of opened it up. So I think it was always a Texas setting because he was interested in the history of the oil business and those kinds of characters. I think as he began to work on it and as we became involved, our goals were to really make that character very rich and figure out how someone in this situation can be sympathetic. How can you root for someone who’s doing this? That was the trick of it, and I think it’s what he handled really, really well in the pilot is that you are on the side of someone who is doing something that’s really amoral.”
Lone Star faces a lot of challenges creatively, but also the distance between the writers’ room and production, that other new series don’t have to face:
A.L.: “The writing staff is in Los Angeles, and we are shooting in Dallas. So practically speaking, it’s difficult to be far away from production, and we go back and forth a lot. That’s a huge challenge.
“Creatively, I would say the challenge is to do two things. It is to tell really dynamic, intriguing, kind of fantastic stories at the same time as you don’t want to get too far away from reality. Early on before people began to see the show, there were a lot of questions asked about us being a soap…And I think the more people see the show, they understand that the difference between sort of a traditional like Texas soap that you might envision is this man’s character, which is, it’s tragic, it’s compelling, and there’s a certain degree of realism to it. He’s not all bad, and he’s not all good.
“And for us, the challenge has been to sort of walk that fine line as we move through stories; that he is not all sympathetic and he’s not all evil. That he is human and flawed and to find a way that you can continue to root for him even when he does things that are kind of despicable, but with good intentions.”
And Robert/Bob faces his own challenges, as well:
A.L.: “Midland was a fluke for him. It was never his intention to fall in love with someone, and I say this because at the moment [I am] embroiled in an episode that will reveal the origins of both of those relationships. So, he always had Cat [Palicki] in his sights as his mark and then made the mistake of falling in love with her, and in the course of, he’s not initially working for Thatcher Oil. It was a long con. He met her. He knew he wanted to get into the family business, but in the interim, before they welcomed him in, he had a life that he needed to maintain. And he did that by going around doing these smaller cons, and Midland was one of them. He sold these oil and gas leases, these natural gas leases in Midland, and in the course of selling Lindsay’s parents on this con, he met her and fell in love with her.
“Lindsay [Mumford] was…just a glitch in a way. It was not his intention. I think it speaks to how vulnerable he was to the life that Lindsay had to offer him, which was simple and uncomplicated, far less citified if that’s a word. And he was drawn into it and then couldn’t extricate himself.”
Will you be drawn into Lone Star? Find out tonight!