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Nerds, We Got a Show: Wil Wheaton Talks “The Wil Wheaton Project”

BY Jennifer Griffin

Published 8 years ago

“Nerds, we got a show,” were the first words uttered by host Wil Wheaton during the premiere of Syfy’s new half hour genre talk show The Wil Wheaton Project last Tuesday.

Aiming to hold up everything science fiction, fantasy and horror to the light, the weekly half hour show will continue to point out the weird and wonderful in the land of genre TV over the summer, Tuesdays from 10 pm.

“If Attack of the Show and Talk Soup had a love child and it was born with a beard, then it would hopefully look something like our show,” Wheaton quipped to reporters during a recent press conference call.

“A little over a year ago, Pilgrim – the studio that produces the show – contacted me and said hey, we have this idea for a show that we’d like you to host and what they pitched me was like a talk Soup style show for paranormal reality shows and I said that sounds really funny because those shows are ridiculous,” explained Wheaton of the show’s origins.

“We sat down and started developing the show and somebody said, you know, instead of just paranormal reality, let’s do scripted paranormal too and that got really funny and then somebody said, you know, maybe instead of doing scripted and reality paranormal shows, we should do some of the other kind of nerd shows that we like. We should do all of genre fiction! And that seemed like a really good idea and we started writing that and eventually about a year later we ended-up with what is now The Wil Wheaton Project. The entire development process was really fun.”

“We just like what basically throughout the development process, we just kept making everybody in the room laugh and we were making each other laugh and the show was getting more and more funny and I think you’ll see tonight the result of that development process.”

What genre favourites will be covered as time goes on? Wheaton outlined the difficulties of reporting on shows during the summer period when many were on hiatus, or recently announced as cancelled including Game of Thrones which was off air the week of the show’s premiere episode. However with several fan – and Wheaton favorites – still airing, or about to kick off over the next few weeks, Wheaton maintains that there is still plenty of ripe material – including future Game of Thrones moments.

Orphan Black is my favorite thing on television right now,” he said. “We’ll be talking about that for sure. There are a bunch of things coming up throughout the year. I am really excited for The Strain. The trick is taking something that really requires you to settle in and sit with it for a couple of hours and pull out five seconds to make a reference to.”

“SyFy’s got a show coming up called Ascension that my friend Tricia Helfer is in and I am really, really excited for that. I know what’s going to happen in like I know the story arc for that show and I think it’s going to be just the coolest thing ever so those are some of the things that I’m looking forward to.”

“And then we also have permission and a big of a directive from the network to cover things that are not on television and movies so we can do comic books, we can do literature, we can do video games so whenever the next installment of the King Killer Chronicles comes out. I’ll be able to talk about that and we’ll be able to dig a little bit deeper into our culture.”

“I’m really looking forward to covering the next release of Dungeons and Dragons and going to Gen-Con and maybe to Origins and covering what’s happening in the world of TableTop gaming and if we can do some crossover with my show Tabletop on Geek and Sundry, I am going to embrace that for sure. So when we say we’re talking about the stuff that we who live in our world love, that’s not marketing. That’s just a fact.”

With so many potential geek references and pivotal TV moments to cram into a half hour slot, how does the selection process occur? Wheaton admits that a “a wonderful team of researchers and producers” are assigned to cover certain shows. “It’s not possible for all of us to watch everything so the researchers watch the shows and will point out when something silly happens or something notable happens,” he notes.

“All of us all day long are looking at things on the Internet. I’m looking at things on Reddit and we’re coming across things on YouTube. Fans of this genre so we are constantly taking in and processing the things that happen in our culture so we gather up a whole bunch of stuff. Our executive producer Doug has a big board in his office and we just put stuff up on the board on an index card that says where we think a thing’s going to go, and how it fits into the four-act structure of the show and then we start working it out and we start writing jokes and we start watching clips and trying to make each other laugh.”

Wheaton admits to being “heartbroken” when Syfy made a creative decision to move away from hard scifi in the past, a move the channel has moved to rectify of late with a number of original science fiction, fantasy and horror series in the works including Dominion, 12 Monkeys, Ascension, Defiance and more.

“I am so excited to be part of that [renaissance]. I feel like ’m grabbing the tail of a phoenix and it’s climbing into the sky and I’m super excited about that so, you know, I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m really happy here.

The Wil Wheaton Project continues Tuesdays at 10:00 pm on Syfy throughout the summer.

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