Like many productions these days, ABC's new drama "Zero Hour" has transitioned to paper-saving electronic transmission of scripts and sides. "You see everybody reading their scripts on the iPad. They read them on their phones," notes executive producer Zack Estrin. The series shoots on location all over New York, "and we're making a very conscious effort to load up every van rather than pick everybody up individually," adds Estrin. "We're picking them up together, which is not only good for the environment, it's good for the traffic in New York City."
"Zero Hour," premiering Feb. 14, is a twisty mystery thriller reminiscent of "The Da Vinci Code" involving the Catholic Church, long-lost treasures and Nazi conspiracies and stars Anthony Edwards as Hank Galliston, the publisher of "Modern Skeptic" magazine, who is thrust into the thick of it when his wife (Jacinda Barrett) is abducted. "Our secrets have secrets," says Estrin, promising a cliffhanger in each episode.
The series marks Edwards' return to TV, his first television role since exiting "ER" in 2002 (not counting a return for a few flashbacks in 2008). He'd said he'd never do a one-hour series again. "I was done when 'ER' was done. It had been an amazing eight years, and I was ready for a new adventure, which included taking time for my family and moving to New York," he says. "So I was being very picky, absolutely intentionally, for quite a few years. I was very specifically not coming back. I was focusing on other things. I learned to cook. We took a year and traveled around the world. I spent every day being with the kids," now 10 and 19. "My wife worked around my schedule for eight years so now we could work around hers."
Clearly, it would take a lot to lure Edwards back, and the "Zero Hour" script did just that. "I could not put it down." The character instantly appealed, especially "his curiosity and tenacity. He doesn't give up. I love that he's that smart, though he's as bewildered as the audience is at the beginning." As for his own skepticism, "I'm probably a little more romantic, a little more willing to go with what the story is," he compares. "But that's what the show deals with, people questioning their beliefs."
Later this year, Edwards will be seen in "Big Sur," which had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last month and co-stars Stana Katic and Radha Mitchell. He plays Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet and City Lights bookstore owner who had a cabin in Big Sur and was a counterculture father figure. Like the character, Edwards has a country retreat: "I have a cabin up the mountains that's all solar. It's off the grid," he says, adding that he's "big on recycling" and drives a diesel-fuel car. "I thought It was a little more responsible."
London-born Carmen Ejogo, who plays FBI agent Becca Riley in "Zero Hour," is similarly mindful. "When I have to drive at all I drive a hybrid. I encourage my kids to walk to school with me," says the mother of a seven- and eleven-year-old. I try to make sure we do the basic-level things like turning lights out. Very simple things can actually have real impact. And I try to cut down on meat consumption. I'm reducing daily."
Ejogo ("Alex Cross," "Sparkle") was drawn to the role's multi-dimensionality. "I haven't seen this kind of FBI character on television. There were descriptive notes in the script that I really latched onto that I think as we go further into the show will reveal themselves. I knew that I would have the opportunity to really get my teeth into something that was complex, and that's important to me as an actress. My character is so nuanced," she adds. "But everyone goes through some kind of existential crisis. The further down the rabbit hole we all go, the more nuanced and complicated we all get."