‘Once Upon a Time’ and ‘Lost’ Producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis Talk Disney Domain and ‘Felicity’ Days
Their rise to the top of the TV food chain is kind of like a fairy tale. No wonder executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis wound up creating Once Upon a Time.
Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, but your origin story is especially trippy.
Horowitz: We met at a bar in 1992 when we were students at the University of Wisconsin.
Kitsis: Our first job there was writing sketches for a little public access comedy show in Madison called Hot Tonight! The producer was a local dentist.
Horowitz: So it’s been a long haul. I always attribute the longevity of our partnership to being friends first. Now we’re like brothers. It was never a business arrangement.
Most TV creators fly solo. Why are there so few teams, much less successful ones?
Kitsis: To be part of a team, you have to check your ego at the door and let the best idea win. That’s tough for some people. It also helped that we moved to Hollywood together, blind and stupid but sharing the same dream.
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Before long you were writing for such cult hits as Popular and Felicity. Did you have any setbacks?
Kitsis: Well, we first pitched Once Upon a Time back in 2002 and were so dumb we thought characters like Jiminy Cricket and Grumpy were public domain. We had no idea they were Disney inventions!
Horowitz: We took our idea to 10 different studios and networks and got 10 rejections. No one wanted a genre show with elves and fairies.
Kitsis: We went on to do Lost and when that ended, everyone was coming to us going, “Hey, ya got any crazy ideas?”
Lost and OUAT share the same DNA—epic scope, bottomless lore, parallel dimensions. Could those shows have existed 20 years ago?
Kitsis: Lost changed everything. The networks finally realized there are a lot of viewers who don’t want to lean back and watch passively. They want to pick up a magnifying glass and lean forward. They want to think. They want to debate.
Do you two ever have big squabbles?
Horowitz: All the time! But when we can’t agree on something in the writers’ room, we inevitably come up with an idea that’s even better than what either of us brought to the table—and that’s exciting!
Once Upon a Time, Sundays, 8/7c, ABC