Cult is a new, high-concept series that will premiere on the CW in February. The premise is that the fans of a show about a cult start acting…well…cult-like. The show stars Matt David (The Vampire Diaries) as investigative journalist Jeff Sefton. Jeff isn’t a fan of the show, but ends up investigating it when his brother, Nate, warns him that the show is not what it appears and then goes missing. Jeff is aided by Syke Yarrow, a research assistant on the show played by Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place, Cloverfield). As they search for Jeff’s brother, the two realize that there is more to the show and the fandom than meets the eye. And the more they uncover, the stranger it all seems… and the more people die in bizarre ways.
The parallel plot of the show-within-the show (also called Cult) has Alona Tal (Supernatural, The Killing) playing Kelly Collins, an NYPD detective who matches wits with cult leader Billy Grimm, played by Robert Knepper (Prison Break, Shameless) after her sister gets involved with the cult. Both Tal and Knepper have dual roles – they play both their characters on the show-within-a-show, and the actors who play those characters.
No one can argue that the creators have rushed the series into production – it took 6 years for the pilot to finally get filmed. The silver lining of the delay, as the creators suggested, is that there was plenty of time to establish a mythology. Interestingly, the show was originally going to star Matt Bomer (White Collar, Magic Mike), but he ended up taking a guest-starring role on CHUCK while Cult languished.
I got to see the pilot at San Diego Comic Con – it was intriguing; the line between the show and the “real life” outside the show definitely got blurry sometimes. Having been involved in some pretty passionate fandoms over the years (ST:TNG, The X-Files, LOST, CHUCK) I can appreciate the concept of fans taking their love of a show
a little bit WAY too far (ok, not quite as far as in Cult, but still…)and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do after the pilot. The current plan is for the series, which films in Vancouver, to run 13 consecutive episodes for its first season. The powers-that-be also hinted that there would probably be some integrated online experiences for fans, not unlike those that were used for LOST (LOST used fake commercials during the show, among other things, to lead fans to online content). After viewing the pilot, I got a chance to sit down with Davis, Lucas, and Knepper in the press room. Unfortunately, I don’t have video, but I do have audio (you’ll have to pardon all the room noise – it was loud in there!)
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Jessica Lucas (Skye Yarrow)
Matt Davis (Jeff Sefton)
Robert Knepper (Billy Grimm) CAUTION: ADULT LANGUAGE!
Catch Cult starting Tuesday, February 19th, at 9/8c on the CW.