once upon a time in springfield

THR: 'Once Upon a Time' Creators Reveal That Prince Charming Was Set to Die in First Episode and Other Secrets

Given all of the iconic Disney characters you’ve included over five seasons, ABC seems the only logical spot for this series. Had you pitched it elsewhere?

KITSIS At the time, we pitched this show to, like, 10 different places, and they all passed, so I think we went into it hoping someone would buy it. Now, we realize it could not be anywhere but Disney because we wouldn’t be able to have Grumpy, we wouldn’t be able to have Jiminy Cricket …

HOROWITZ They were so supportive of it because the idea was really about putting a spin on all of these characters, and they were totally game to do that. There are so many of these characters that are so iconic [during] all of our childhoods that we forget that their most iconic versions were developed by Disney.

What is the process like when you’re putting these classic characters into the show? Is there a point person at Disney who says yea or nay?

KITSIS Disney has people who pro­tect the brand. The very first image of our pilot was when we put a sword into Snow White’s hands, which we didn’t realize was the first time that that had happened. We had this meeting with the people at Disney, and we said, “Well, in the original movie, she went into a dwarf’s house and cleaned up, but we wouldn’t want our daugh­ters [to do that.] That’s not the kind of Snow White they want to see.”

HOROWITZ We talked about how we wanted to make these characters for a modern time and create what we like to call our Disney cul-de-sac, where we take the characters out for a little spin and then return them to the shelf.

Who’s still on your wish list?

HOROWITZ Aladdin and Jasmine are characters we love. The Princess and the Frog is a movie we really enjoyed, and we think that there are wonderful characters in there.

You did a spinoff once before, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. With such a huge ensemble, have you talked about doing another one?

KITSIS We did try it once, and had that show [aired during] our hia­tus, it would have worked better. But we’re really not thinking about spinning it off right now. For us, it was always our dream to make Storybrooke like Springfield in The Simpsons. The very first spec Adam and I ever wrote was for The Simpsons. We just loved how once a year you knew Disco Stu was going to come and you knew everyone at the school, and it had its own world. For Once, that’s what we always wanted to aspire to.

The show has several strong female characters at its core. How conscious a decision was that?

KITSIS We never wanted to do dam­sels in distress. Princess Leia didn’t need to be saved, and that was always inspiring. And we had always written strong women, whether it was Kate on Lost or Felicity [from Felicity]. For us, that’s what was interesting. We wanted princesses that kicked ass.

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